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The Atitlán Watershed Multiple Use Reserve is located in the Highlands of Western Guatemala, Central America. This protected area aims to conserve the forest ecosystems of the surrounding mountains and volcanoes, the hydrological functioning of the Lake Atitlán watershed, the tangible and non-tangible cultural heritage of the region, and its spectacular natural beauty. The endorreic watershed has its geological origin in a series of cataclysmic events that created a volcanic caldera, filled partially by the Lake Atitlán. The southern part of the watershed is characterized by the presence of three recent volcanoes that rise up to 3,700 meters above sea level (masl) in the Atitlán volcano, all of them covered by cloud forests, home to the endemic Horned Guan, a rare cracid bird that exists only in Chiapas and Guatemala. The central portion of the watershed used to be covered by pine-oak forests, and that is the area where most of the towns, communities and agricultural fields are located.
The protected area, enacted in 1955 as a national park, it was re-categorized as a Multiple Use Reserve, in recognition of the large human population and diverse agricultural use of the area. The Nature Conservancy started to work in the area in 2001, supporting the conservation and sustainable development efforts of its partners: Vivamos Mejor, a local community-development and environmental NGO; ARNPG; the national network of private nature reserves; and CONAP, the National Council of Protected Areas, the government agency in charge of the official management of the reserve.
The Reserve is a great example of the expansion of voluntary protected areas, especially municipal parks and private nature reserves, as a legitimate mechanism to bring more effective governance to nationally-declared protected areas.
Participated in the 2009 Climate Clinic.
For information on the common taxonomy of threats,