Train Forest Guards to Protect Guatemalan Forest

 
$242
$9,758
Raised
Remaining
Don Agustin, Community Leader in Totonicapan
Don Agustin, Community Leader in Totonicapan

Since 2003, EcoLogic has successfully worked with its local partner, the 48 Cantones (cantónes are administrative regions) to promote and build local capacity for the restoration, management, and conservation of the 52,000-acre Communal Forest of Los Altos de San Miguel in the central highlands of Totonicapán, Guatemala. The 48 Cantones is a traditional indigenous governance body composed of local mayors that has supported communities and conservation of forest and water resources in the area for more than 800 years. 

The overwhelming majority of the 50 communities served in this project suffer from poverty, many from extreme poverty. The strategies co-implemented by EcoLogic and the 48 Cantones aid these communities in protecting the forest by reducing legal and illegal timber extraction. As a result of this collaboration, the deforestation rate in Totonicapán fell slightly below 1% last year, and hundreds of youth are now educated in traditional Maya Quiché conservation practices.

2014 Accomplishments

In the past year, EcoLogic and the 48 Cantones have successfully executed a multi-pronged approach.

  1. A total of 132,000 native trees, including the Guatemalan Fir, White Pine, Red Pine, Cyprus, Oak, and Andean Alder, have been reforested in an area of approximately 286 acres of previously degraded forest.  Participants in reforestation activities included 2,950 participants from 29 communities, including 200 youth.  Delegates and directors of the Natural Resources Committee of the 48 Cantones perform forest monitoring once a month to supervise reforestation efforts, to assure that sapling trees are still intact, and to prevent illegal logging.  
  2. A total of eight workshops were facilitated for 200 village water communities on the topics of forest restoration, watershed management, and habitat protection.  Additional workshops have been facilitated for 505 elementary school youth and 150 secondary school youth from 10 local schools. The majority of these youth will participate in a series of reforestation days when the next batch of native tree saplings growing in area greenhouses, also supported by EcoLogic, are ready for reforestation. Educating youth about conservation ensures that future generations lead in taking action to conserve and protect the forest against further degradation and damage.
  3. Furthermore, 64% of residents depend on firewood as a source of energy.  The stove models we have piloted and introduced in Totonicapán now decrease firewood consumption by as much as 60%.  This translates into a typical supply of 75 sticks of fuel wood lasting for nearly a week, as opposed to only 2-3 days when using a traditional open-pit fire.

Long-term Impact

The forest restoration work, in combination with the reduced human pressure on resources through adoption of sustainable livelihood alternatives, has improved the long-term availability of natural resources such as microwatersheds for drinking water, timber, and soil.   Improved management of these resources, including multi-stakeholder collaboration around prevention of illegal logging, helps sustain livelihood practices such as agriculture, construction, and food preparation at the family level.  The educational component of our work has ensured that the majority of the residents in the local communities can demonstrate an understanding of environmental issues, the link between human activities and forest health, and resource availability.

Our partnership has received national and international acclaim for its focus on preserving a forest of socio-economic and cultural importance, in part through the preservation and dissemination of traditional Maya K’iche conservation practices.  Thank you for your ongoing support for our mission!

Farmers in San Mateo Ixtatan, Huehuetenango
Farmers in San Mateo Ixtatan, Huehuetenango

In Guatemala, EcoLogic is working with The Northern Border Municipalities Alliance (MFN) which is an alli­ance of seven municipalities in the departments of Quiché and Huehuetenango that works to encour­age the protection and sustainable management of natural resources in the region. 

In our August 15, 2013 report, we told you about the Incentives for Small-Scale Agricultural Producers, or PINPEP, Program.  Since then, we have helped connect 73 farmers in San Ma­teo Ixtatán and Santa Cruz Barillas with the federal program, helping them earn a combined $46,466 for their conservation & reforestation efforts.

Together, EcoLogic and MFN are able to provide hands-on support and training through our project’s local technician, Yovany Díaz to clear barriers—ranging from paperwork, to monitoring, to technical agricultural inputs—for farmers interested in enrolling in the program. With your continuing support and this fruitful alliance, we aim to achieve these activities in the remainder of the year:

  • Connect 80 more farmers to PINPEP program that can financially support them in producing crops while including trees and sustainable practices on their farms.
  • Train 75 community members as forest guardians to protect and monitor the forest’s resources
  • Strengthen the MFN’s institutional capacity by providing trainings on fundraising and budgeting
  • Facilitate a learning exchange between farmers currently practicing agroforestry and farmers who are interested in taking steps towards agroforestry and sustainable farming
Thinning brings forests back to healthy densities
Thinning brings forests back to healthy densities

EcoLogic continues to work with over 75 forest guards in Guatemala to help preserve and restore the natural resources. In the past few months, EcoLogic held 4 workshops to train 75 new forest guards to protect and monitor the forest’s resources. These Guardians of the Forest not only voluntarily work to curb poaching and illegal logging activities but they also help lead the charge in working with the communities’ restoration efforts. In addition, as part of a holistic approach to forest conservation, EcoLogic held several training sessions, informing 65 women on how to successfully manage the natural regeneration of the forest. Here, it is the women who are managing and caring for the forest’s regeneration. With babies in tow, these dedicated women use machetes to thin the “old growth” which allows for the new trees to flourish. Since our last update we have been able to reforest 40 hectares (that is 99 acres!) of denuded land in 3 communities with our partner, the Mancomunidad Frontera del Norte. In addition, the forest guards have implemented fire control plans to help prevent and control forest fires.

Workers preparing the trees to be reforested
Workers preparing the trees to be reforested

"We are reforesting here because there has been a lot of deforestation and there are no longer trees in our area."
—Miguel Francisco

Miguel is a forest guard in Xequel, a small town in Huehuetenango, Guatemala. 

Recently, Guatemala has enacted a program, known as PINPEP (Program of Incentives for Small-Scale Agricultural Producers) that provides financial incentives to farmers who implement sustainable farming practices, such as agroforestry.

EcoLogic is currently registering farmers, like Miguel, and helping monitor their land in order to ensure that their farming is sustainable and that they are receiving payment. Through enrollment in PINPEP, families in Xequel receive an additional $166 a year when practicing sustainable farming. The town of Xequel is plagued by drought and deforestation. The average family income is less than $1,000 a year. EcoLogic is actively ramping up our support of the PINPEP program in order to conserve and rehabilitate the environment, but also to provide a reliable source of income and food for families. 

Your support not only supports the conservation of precious and threatened forests in Huehuetenango, Guatemala, but also provides families with additional income necessary to meet their basic needs.

Read more about the program and hear from Miguel here: http://www.ecologic.org/en/projectsguatemala

Links:

In the county of San Mateo Ixtatán, Guatemala, Forest Guardians continue to raise awareness about proper and sustainable management of natural resources. Recent activities have included advisory visits to local and country level nurseries to encourage and promote new, native tree production.

Recently, support was provided to a group of 60 women from 14 communities to assist in the management of 69 hectares of forest. The hectares they monitor have been designated a protected area of natural regeneration by the city of Ixtatan. This important designation was due, in large part, to the commitment of these 60 female Guards to monitor and care for the area.

EcoLogic has noticed a dramatic increase in participation from women since we began a concerted effort to encourage the involvement of women in Forest Guardians trainings over 2 years ago. Thanks to the support of people like you, we will continue to expand the impact of Forest Guardians within at-risk forests of Guatemala. 

Links:

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Organization

Project Leader

Alexa Piacenza

Program Associate
Cambridge, MA United States

Where is this project located?

Map of Train Forest Guards to Protect Guatemalan Forest