In 1994, the government of Belize converted an area of roughly 17,000 hectares of Maya ancestral land into the Sarstoon-Temash National Park, without holding a consultation of the Maya people residents. However, the majority of local communities quickly embraced the protected status of their land. After the conversion, the government of Belize took another turn and opened up the national park for oil exploration by a Belize-owned subsidiary of the company US Capital Energy Inc. The communities refused this initiative, pointing out the lack of consultation. The resistance against the oil exploration activities was carried out by local residents in different ways. On the one hand, communities advanced local indigenous conservation models within the park. On the other hand, they started to challenge oil permits and exploration through Belize's legal system.