Through this project, Ya'axche will target seven rural and remote villages of southern Belize through hands-on community education and reforestation of shade and native fruit trees around schools, community areas and homes. Not only will communities become more resilient to climate change due to the ecosystem services trees provide, but nutrition can be improved and livelihoods diversified through the fruit and value-added products from such trees.
The remote villages targeted in this tree planting project are faced with high poverty and malnutrition rate. Villagers are primarily indigenous Maya who have traditionally relied upon forest resources for food, medicinal plants, building and craft materials. The effects of climate change coupled with deforestation of southern Belize's forests threaten the health and livelihoods of these vulnerable communities.
By working with these communities to plant different tree species, from hardwood to fruit trees, climate change effects can be mitigated and the ecosystem services forests provide, including carbon sequestration, clean air and water, and soil health, can be maintained. Livelihoods can be sustained and improved through consumption of fruits and sale of other value-added products, while adequate nutrition can be provided through harvesting fruits and shade-grown vegetables.
Local indigenous communities play an important role in forest protection and ecosystem conservation, and through this project, villagers of all ages will engage in tree planting and learn about climate-smart agriculture. By encouraging hands-on involvement, Ya'axche hopes to instill a strong conservation ethic which will benefit the incredible biodiversity which lives in Belize's forests, and the communities themselves in terms of food security, as well as climate and economic resiliency.