By Alexa Piacenza | Program Associate for Development & Communications
Volcano Santa Maria. Photo by Julian Moll-Rocek
EcoLogic is proud to announce that our former intern, Julian Moll-Rocek, and his brother Thomas have released a documentary: 48 Cantones: The Mayan Forest. This enlightening filmexplores the Mayan Cosmovision and tells the story of EcoLogic’s partner, Los 48 Cantones. It serves as a reminder of humanity’s diverse cultural heritage, and offers hope that the world can find a balance with nature. Please take the time to behold this beautiful and revealing documentary here: “48 Cantones: The Mayan Forest,”
The community forest in Guatemala contains 21,000 hectares of old growth pine and has been carefully preserved by the indigenous Maya Q’uiché government known as the 48 Cantones. This organization relies on each community members serving one year of unpaid service including road maintenance, acting as local mayors, and regular patrols through the forest to prevent over-exploitation.
Water committees of community members are dedicated to building and maintaining water catchment systems that channel the precious resource directly to their homes. The 48 Cantones are in constant tension with the local municipal government, which contests their rights to the forest, pushing to privatize the water supply. Yet, in the eyes of the local population there is only one source of legitimate authority: the 48 Cantones, who ensure the continued supply of their sacred water.
The documentary offers a lesson of the fortune of the commons: a community united through their shared efforts to protect their common resources.
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 GlobalGiving and ensure that the forest will still be there for Gloria, her community, and future generations!
By Lydia Sorensen | GlobalGiving In-the-Field Representative
Greenhouses in Totonicapan
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.
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