Of the twelve species of Chamaedorea palm recorded for Belize, three are of international economic value because their cut leaves (xaté) are traded in the floricultural industry. Traditionally, Belize has not harvested xaté, the industry being based in Mexico and Guatemala. However, a decline in wild xaté stocks in these countries means Guatemalan leaf harvesters now illegally harvest xaté in Belize. To assess the local abundance of the Belizean Chamaedorea resource, its economic value, and the extent to which it has been illegally harvested, 209 plots measuring 20 meters (m) by 20 m were established in the Greater Maya Mountains (GMM) in western Belize, which includes the Chiquibul Forest Reserve (CFR). We estimate that 37.8 million leaves with a value of U.S. $0.3 million to xateros have been extracted from the CFR. The standing export value is calculated as U.S. $1.8 million for the CFR and U.S. $5 million for the GMM.
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