Evolution of Community-Based Enterprise Governance Over Time: Lessons Learned from the Maya Biosphere Reserve

Megan Butler, Dean Current

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


This paper focuses upon the organizational governance of community forest enterprises (CFEs) in the Maya Biosphere Reserve (MBR) of Northern Guatemala. The MBR's community-forest concession system has become an international model for community-based forest management and community forest enterprise (CFE) development due to the socio-economic and ecological benefits that it has achieved. Many CFEs managing forest concessions within the reserve have been able to curb deforestation rates and improve local forest quality while enjoying jobs and income gained from selling timber and non-timber forest products. Income generated by CFEs supports sustainable livelihoods and incentivizes forest protection. However, while the forest-management practices in the reserve have been well documented, less is known about the internal governance of these CFEs and how these systems have developed over time. This paper focuses upon research conducted on the evolution of CFE organizational governance. Research involved interviews, document review, and observation. CFEs face unique challenges during different phases of their development. This paper outlines the challenges described by key informants in the MBR as well as how they were able to overcome these challenges. It then provides suggestions for future research and application.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalSmall-scale Forestry
StateAccepted/In press - 2021

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
Funding for this research was provided by the Rainforest Alliance’s Kleinhans Fellowship as well as the Interdisciplinary Center for the Study of Global Change. There are no conflicts of interest to disclose. This research proposal was submitted to the University of Minnesota Institutional Review Board (IRB) in October, 2015 and in September, 2017 (IRB ID: STUDY00001452).

Funding Information:
This research was completed with the financial support of the University of Minnesota’s Interdisciplinary Center for the Study of Global Change and the Rainforest Alliance. This research received financial support in the form of a Global Food Security Fellowship from the Interdisciplinary Center for the Study of Global Change as well as the Rainforest Alliance’s Kleinhans Fellowship. This research would not have been possible without the support of community partners within the Petén who provided logistical support and guidance. We would like to thank the Rainforest Alliance staff in the Petén, the Association of Forest Communities in the Petén (ACOFOP), Aldo Rodas of the Guatemalan Ministry of Agriculture and Ranching (MAGA), and everyone that provided feedback and interviews from the National Counsel of Protected Areas (CONAP), Propeten Foundation, the German Cooperation for International Cooperation, Empresa Forestal de Servicios del Bosque (FORESCOM), Naturaleza Para La Vida, Wildlife Conservation Society, Centro Agronómico Tropical de Investigación y Enseñanza (CATIE), Centro Maya, Associacion Balam, and ARCAS, Sociedad Civil Custodios de la Selva, Sociedad Civil para el Desarrollo Árbol Verde, Sociedad Civil Organización Manejo y Conservación Comunidad Uaxactún (OMYC), Cooperativa Integral de Comercialización Carmelita R.L., Asociación Integral Forestal de San Andrés, and Asociación de Productores de San Miguel (APROSAM). Finally, I would like to thank my mentors at the University of Minnesota including my academic advisor and my dissertation committee including Karlyn Eckman, Kristen Nelson and Michael Bolen as well as the faculty of the Masters of Development Practice program and the CINRAM lab group.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2021, Steve Harrison, John Herbohn.


  • Community enterprise governance
  • Community forest enterprises
  • Community forestry


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