Green Battalion to protect Guatemala's national park

Last Updated: Sun, Nov 07, 2010 13:40 hrs

Guatemala City, Nov 7 (IANS/EFE) Guatemala's sprawling Laguna del Tigre National Park, home to more than 3,000 species of flora and about 50 archaeological sites, will be protected by the 'Green Battalion', formed by the government to boost wildlife protection.

The park, covering over 334,000 hectares, is part of the Ramsar List of Wetlands of International Importance.

It is in the Maya Biosphere Reserve, a vast tropical forest in the northern province of El Peten.

The military contingent, comprising 250 specially-trained soldiers, was created in late August by President Alvaro Colom to guard the protected areas in El Peten.

The soldiers will protect the park and work jointly with police and the attorney general's office, Guatemalan armed forces spokesman Rony Urizar said Friday.

The unit will check drug trafficking, depredation of natural resources and the archaeological sites in the reserve, close to the border with Mexico, Urizar added.

The French oil company Perenco has been running oil drilling sites in the park since 1985. The Guatemalan president said the drilling will not cause environmental damage.

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