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The Maya Tropical Forest

People, Parks, and Ancient CIties

By James D. Nations

Publication Year: 2006

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.

Published by: University of Texas Press

Title Page, Copyright, Dedication

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Contents

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pp. vii-viii

Preface

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pp. ix-xii

Acknowledgments

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pp. xiii-xv

Notes on Names and Orthography

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pp. xvii-xviii

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On Distances and Measurements

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pp. xix-

"This book uses the metric system of distances and measurements: meters instead of feet, kilometers instead of miles, hectares instead of acres. The following list will aid readers not accustomed to these..."

Epochs of Civilization in the Maya Tropical Forest

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pp. xxi-

Part One Time, Land, and Forest

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pp. 1-

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1 Introduction to the Maya Tropical Forest

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pp. 3-17

"We woke up to the raucous, barking growl of howler monkeys in the trees overhead—a sound much louder than animals their size should make and one that raises the hair on the back of your neck the first time you hear it in the rainforest. We had slept in the thousand-year-old ruins of the Maya city of Piedras Negras, on a sandy bank above the dark, rushing ..."

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2 History of the Maya Tropical Forest

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pp. 18-45

"Legend has it that when the Spanish conquistador Hern

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3 Natural History of the Maya Tropical Forest

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pp. 46-110

"Long before humans came to occupy the Maya region, geology had divided it into highlands and lowlands. Photographs taken from NASA’s space shuttles as they pass over Guatemala show a long chain of volcanic mountains streaming westward along the Pacific Ocean into Chiapas and eastward into El Salvador and Honduras. Here and there, a few volcanoes ..."

Part Two Mexico, Guatemala, and Belize

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pp. 111-

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4 Mexico

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pp. 113-171

"The R

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5 Guatemala

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pp. 172-224

"For the Guatemalan equivalent of US $20 per day, a team of crusty chicle gum harvesters from the settlement of Carmelita, Pet

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6 Belize

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pp. 225-256

"On the third day of the expedition to climb Little Quartz Ridge, we began to eat snails. The leader of our eight-person expedition into southern Belize had contracted six Mopan Maya guides from the farming community of San Jos

Part Three The Future of the Maya Tropical Forest

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pp. 257-

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7 The Future of the Selva Maya

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pp. 259-285

"Based on the work of conservationists, archaeologists, and historians, we know that the Maya Tropical Forest is one of the most biologically diverse regions on the planet and that during the pre-Columbian era, it hosted the most advanced civilization in the Western Hemisphere, that of the Classic Maya. All available evidence indicates that after a thousand years ..."

Glossary

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pp. 287-

References Cited

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pp. 289-311

Index

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pp. 313-323


E-ISBN-13: 9780292796157
E-ISBN-10: 0292796153
Print-ISBN-13: 9780292712829
Print-ISBN-10: 0292712820

Page Count: 368
Illustrations: 32 b&w photos, 1 line drawing, 6 maps, 2 tables
Publication Year: 2006

Research Areas

Recommend

Subject Headings

  • Human ecology -- Yucatán Peninsula.
  • Yucatán Peninsula -- Environmental aspects.
  • Mayas -- Ethnozoology.
  • Rain forest ecology -- Yucatán Peninsula.
  • Mayas -- Ethnobotany.
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