The Maya Tropical Forest: People, Parks, & Ancient Cities

The Maya Tropical Forest: People, Parks, & Ancient Cities

The Maya Tropical Forest: People, Parks, & Ancient Cities

The Maya Tropical Forest: People, Parks, & Ancient Cities

Synopsis

The Maya Tropical Forest, which occupies the lowlands of southern Mexico, Guatemala, and Belize, is the closest rainforest to the United States and one of the most popular tourist destinations in the Western Hemisphere. It has been home to the Maya peoples for nearly four millennia, starting around 1800 BC. Ancient cities in the rainforest such as Palenque, Yaxchilan, Tikal, and Caracol draw thousands of tourists and scholars seeking to learn more about the prehistoric Maya. Their contemporary descendants, the modern Maya, utilize the forest's natural resources in village life and international trade, while striving to protect their homeland from deforestation and environmental degradation. Writing for both visitors and conservationists, James Nations tells the fascinating story of how ancient and modern Maya peoples have used and guarded the rich natural resources of the Maya Tropical Forest. He opens with a natural history that profiles the forest's significant animals and plants. Nations then describes the Maya peoples, biological preserves, and major archaeological sites in Mexico, Guatemala, and Belize. Drawing on more than twenty-five years of conservation work in the Maya Tropical Forest, Nations tells first-hand stories of the creation of national parks and other protected areas to safeguard the region's natural resources and archaeological heritage. He concludes with an expert assessment of the forest's future in which he calls for expanded archaeological tourism to create an ecologically sustainable economic base for the region.

Excerpt

Working in the Maya Tropical Forest for more than 25 years gave me the opportunity to examine scores of books on the region, but my research in libraries and bookstores never turned up the one book I was looking for. I was seeking a book that brought together the basic information on the region’s people, archaeology, and natural resource conservation. Most of all, the book would tell interesting stories about the people, history, and wildlife of the Maya Tropical Forest. This volume represents my effort to create that book for future travelers and researchers.

The Maya Tropical Forest: People, Parks, and Ancient Cities tells a unified story of the lowland tropical forest of southern Mexico, Guatemala, and Belize. The Maya Tropical Forest is the closest rainforest to the United States and one of the most visited tourist sites in the Western Hemisphere. Journalists have called the Maya the most fascinating ancient culture since Egyptian pharaohs first inspired the public imagination, and few months go by without at least one major article on the ancient or modern Maya in National Geographic, Natural History, Newsweek, or Time. Descriptions of Maya archaeology appear regularly in the New York Times, Washington Post, and Los Angeles Times. Simultaneously, questions about the fate of the world’s rainforests have seeped deep into public concern during the past 25 years, and generations of students are seeking to learn more about the fate of these forests.

The Maya Tropical Forest: People, Parks, and Ancient Cities guides the reader through the past and future of southern Mexico, Guatemala, and Belize, telling some of the stories I have heard and experienced in the region’s archaeological sites, national parks, and communities. The book describes the region’s plants and wildlife, explains how the ancient Maya . . .

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