Guatemala  has more than 90 protected areas encompassing about 28 percent of the country’s total land area. Among the different types of protected areas are biosphere reserves, national parks, biotopes, natural monuments, wildlife refuges, and private nature reserves. Several of these are encompassed within larger areas, as is the case with the national parks and biotopes making up the larger Maya Biosphere Reserve .
Most of Guatemala’s protected areas, including the biosphere reserves, have been created since 1990. All of Guatemala’s volcanoes are protected areas. There are also laws in effect to protect endangered wildlife species; among these are Guatemala’s big cats and parrots.
The National Protected Areas Council (CONAP) is the entity charged with administering Guatemala’s protected areas. It was created in 1990, along with the National Environmental Commission (CONAMA), which oversees broader environmental matters and was replaced in 2000 by the Ministry of the Environment and Natural Resources (MARN). CONAP has been historically underfunded and understaffed, leaving few resources with which to protect vast areas of land from invasion. Private conservation groups have stepped in to assist CONAP in its mandate and there are now several parks coadministered or primarily administered by private organizations. A specially trained police force began operating in Guatemala’s protected areas in 2005, particularly in the Maya Biosphere Reserve, aided by M-16s and AK-47s to combat well-armed timber and wildlife poachers. All the parks have at least rudimentary ranger stations. In an ongoing effort to attract more park visitation, many have excellent facilities for guest accommodations and well-marked trails.