To prevent the devastation of the 52,000-acre forest of Los Altos de San Miguel in Totonicapán, EcoLogic is working with community leaders, authorities, and our partner, the 48 Cantones(the Maya K’iche governing body). This ancient community forest—one of the last remaining stands of old-growth coniferous forest that still exists in the region—sustains life for the Maya K’iche.
Gloria is a five-year-old K’iche Maya girl who lives near the forest just beyond the noise of the advancing chainsaws. Her family depends on the forest for their livelihood and survival. Without it, there would be no source of water for Gloria, her family, or the surrounding communities. For centuries, her ancestors and the community protected the beloved “Sacred Forest.” Today, her parents and her community continue the struggle to keep the forest alive and illegal loggers out.
Ten years ago, EcoLogic and its local partner organization the 48 Cantones built the area’s first state-of-the-art tree nursery with a gravity-fed sprinkler system. With your investment, over the years we have constructed eight greenhouses. Under the protection of a roof and timed-drip irrigation system, the trees’ survival rates are higher and production is far greater. With the hard work of our partner communities, our greenhouses can produce more than 100,000 saplings a year for reforestation activities in degraded areas.
Increasingly, this forest is exposed to the danger of a persistent enemy—the illegal logger. Outsiders endanger the forest and its abundant water sources, upon which thousands of lives depend.
Today, EcoLogic in helping the 48 Cantones develop and implement a plan to stop forest crimes: conducting a community-led assessment to determine more effective ways to combat the threat and identify the illegal timber traders, training forest guards and conducting patrols, and raising awareness through media campaigns.
As you read this, the chainsaws are at work. Gloria worries about the unceasing noise of the chainsaw that she hears growing closer. Will her precious forest and drinking water still be there when Gloria grows up?
Please continue to support EcoLogic's work through Global Giving and ensure that the forest will still be there for Gloria, her community, and future generations!
The following is a postcard from Lydia Sorensen, GlobalGiving's In-the-Field Representative in Guatemala, about her recent visit to Ecologic Development Fund.
Inside the vivero (plant nursery) in the hills of Totonicapan, Guatemala, Don Augustin gently lifts a young white pine from its tray to show me the healthy roots. He explains the importance of using the right soil depending on the type of tray, and using the right amount of organic fertilizer that he and his young relative Cesar make themselves. He waves his hands over the rows and rows of tiny seedlings describing each species (White Pine, Guatemalan Fir, Red Pine, Alder, just to name a few) and how he cares for them.
Don Augustin has been working with trees and seedlings for over twenty years, and with the Ecologic Development Fund’s reforestation project since the beginning. As he describes the trees, and their effect on the community (by helping to protect valuable sources of fresh water, and keeping the forests alive) it’s readily apparent that this is not only his life’s work, but his passion. Together with Don Augustin, Ecologic Development Fund is working with the community leaders to ensure that the beautiful forests covering the hills in Totonicapan are there for future generations.
“We may be poor,” says Don Augustin “but we work together.” The communities that will receive these trees come to help Don Augustin and Cesar with their work in caring for the seedlings, and in doing so not only “earn” the trees, but also learn about how to tend them. Surrounded by the peaceful quiet of the forest, he carefully plants a seedling in the ground, and I am filled with hope that this place will exist for decades to come.
In the Gulf of San Miguel, located on the Pacific coast of Panama's remote Darien region, this naturally rich and diverse landscape features mangrove forests, flowing rivers, and abundant wildlife—and is called home by many indigenous cultures.
It is hard to believe that even with this wealth of natural resources and beauty, Darien is one of the poorest regions in Panama.
For Eric and Manuel, two fishermen from the Congo River community in San Miguel, fishing is how they sustain themselves and their families. Their story however, is one of daily struggle. Fish and marine life are in decline because of environmental degradation and contamination from raw sewage.
Panama may seem far from where you live, but it’s actually just a short distance in the work of sustaining our planet and its people.
The mangroves of the Gulf of San Miguel provide protection from storm surges, high winds, erosion, and marine pollution. These trees also serve as critical habitat to a wide diversity of fish, crab, and shrimp on which local people depend for food and their economy.
Plus, the mangroves of San Miguel are important habitat for many species that we in the US also know and appreciate including birds, and sea turtles that migrate between the two countries.
In the Gulf, EcoLogic is not only working to protect Eric and Manuel’s livelihood, and the livelihoods of many other people and communities in the region, but also to strengthen the connection we have to each other.
With your support EcoLogic is:
Training leaders and members of the consolidated fishing organization to increase the scope and use of sustainable fishing practices and generate more income for its members.
Improve waste management in coastal communities and strengthen local capacity for the conservation of water resources. Identify and restore watersheds and other critical habitat.
Participate in a formal request to the national government to declare a protected area in the Gulf of San Miguel, bringing needed support and protection to the area.
With your help, EcoLogic is working to make connections between water, land, and people, but it is you who make these connections possible and we thank you for your commitment.