The Judicial Aspect of Lake Atitlan….

We know that Lake Atitlan is the most beautiful lake in the world…
and we enjoy its beautiful views, Mayan culture, incredible weather. Now do you know what Lake Atitlan is its the juridical status?
Well since the Spanish conquest the juridical status as evolved a lot… When the Spanish arrived the lake basin was inhabited by Mayan from the Kakchiquel, Quiches and Tzutuhiles ethnies. From there the Spanish divided the land in encomiendas and this evolved until today administrative division, with the classification in National Park in 1955 and then recategorized in 1997 (decreto 64-97) as Reserve of Multiple Uses of the Basin of Lake Atitlan, which in Spanish translate into RUMCLA (Reserva de Uso Multiple de la Cuenca del Lago de Atitlan). In 1999 the Technical Unit of Atitlan , part of the National Council of Protected Areas (CONAP) is created. The area is administrated by a director, 1 forest technician, 19 forest guard and 1 secretary. The office is located in Solola. The superficy is 541 km2, 124,722 ha or 306.40 acres and covers 19 villages of the department of Solola. The area also include part of Santa Catarina Ixtahuacan, Patulul and Chicacao of Suchitepequez, Chichicastenango of Quiche and part of San Miguel Totonicapan, as of Tecpan, Pochuta and Patzun of Chimaltenango Department. The lake is 130 km2, a maximum depth of 324 mts and an average depth of 188 mts.
Now why to protect this area…?
Because it is part of the Volcanic Chain of the occident of Guatemala considered as prioritary region for conservation of biodiversity. It conserve the resources of the basin and water of Lake Atitlan considered one of the most beautiful in the world, it is the second tourist destination in Guatemala, generating grand quantity of employment and taxes. It has a spectacular scenic beauty, exuberant nature and Maya culture. In the area there is several archeological sites and multiples sacred spaces. It is an area of high hydrological importance as its water provide rivers and sources to the pacific coast. It is a pioneer protected area for private natural reserve , actually there are 13 of them and finally in its territory it has been established 4 municipals parks in San Marcos, San Pedro, Santa Clara and San Juan La Laguna. The CONAP conscious of the urgency of having a Master Plan as strategic an solid instrument to direct with better efficiency the administration and conversation of the RUMCLA, solicit ate to the Nature Conservancy (TNC) the elaboration of it. From this solicitation TNC , in consultation with CONAP, Vivamos Mejor and the General Secretary for Planificacion (SEGEPLAN) elaborate a plan to consolidate all the environmental and development activities, define threats (cultural, economical…), ordinates the relation between the different institutions of the area. After several meeting between NGO, institutions, civil society… a Master Plan has been elaborated , Plan Maestro, which have been approved and now rules the lake area since 2007 and it is valid until 2011 when it will be evaluated and modificated if necessary.
So for the moment remember that the Lake is part of the National System of Protected Area, that its name is RUMCLA and that the CONAP is the entity in charge of administrating it.
In my next post I will go a little deeper into the practical meaning it has for us.

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