Human Ecology

, Volume 16, Issue 4, pp 377–395

The causes and consequences of deforestation among the prehistoric Maya

  • Elliot M. Abrams
  • David J. Rue

DOI: 10.1007/BF00891649

Cite this article as:
Abrams, E.M. & Rue, D.J. Hum Ecol (1988) 16: 377. doi:10.1007/BF00891649


The collapse of the Classic Maya state is investigated from an ecological perspective. Settlement and palynological data from the Maya center of Copan, Honduras, are presented which indicate that substantial clearing of the upland pine forest had occurred prior to and during the abandonment of that urban center. A comparative use- rate analysis suggests that the increased clearing of pine was primarily caused by demands for domestic fuel wood by an expanding urban population. This forest mismanagement is directly linked to accelerated erosion rates which are considered primary elements in the collapse of the Maya state.

Key words

deforestationpalynologyMaya collapse

Copyright information

© Plenum Publishing Corporation 1988

Authors and Affiliations

  • Elliot M. Abrams
    • 1
  • David J. Rue
    • 2
  1. 1.Ohio UniversityUSA
  2. 2.WAPORA, Inc.USA