Agroforestry and avoided deforestation along Guatemala's Caribbean Coast
About the project:
The Althelia Climate Fund has participated in a EUR 10.2 million (US$11.1 million) investment program in Izabal, on the Caribbean Coast of Guatemala, to finance the long-term conservation of up to 110,000 hectares of natural forest in and around the region’s network of protected areas, up from an original goal of 54,000 ha. The investment aims to avoid over 8 million tonnes of CO2 emissions through avoided deforestation, an increase of 3.8 million ha from its initial target.
The investment also enables the restoration of over 1,000 hectares of degraded land situated in buffer zones around the protected areas, bolstering conservation efforts in the process. A diverse variety of agricultural produce including cardamom, xate, pepper, rambutan, lychee, cinnamon and timber will be produced with agroforestry systems, improving the livelihoods of small scale farmers and their families, ensuring a transition towards sustainable land use in and around the protected areas. This will all be accomplished in partnership with local communities who suffer the most from forest loss and degradation.
The remaining forests of the Guatemalan Caribbean are highly important for biodiversity conservation because they are an important migratory corridor. Over 120 species of migratory birds use the Caribbean forests as wintering or stop over sites. The forests of the Caribbean Region also provide key environmental services for local towns and communities, including drinking water, protection against the sedimentation of port navigation channels, reduction of risks of natural disasters, timber, and a variety of non-timber forest products. At the landscape level, the Caribbean Region provides a unique opportunity for tourism, with its unique natural and cultural heritage. These forests are also highly threatened due to deforestation and unsustainable land uses activities, mainly slash and burn agriculture and extensive cattle ranching.
Althelia’s investment will finance the establishment of new nature reserves and protected areas that also address the needs of the local human population to safeguard the highest risk forest areas. In addition, it will provide resources to manage and scientifically monitor the existing protected areas and surrounding buffer areas, which have historically been under-resourced and vulnerable to illegal exploitation. A new sustainable development paradigm will be catalyzed through investing in over 1,000 ha of agroforestry systems, which will provide new revenue streams and opportunities for local landowners and communities. This will be coupled with an injection of capital into the region's eco-tourism network to open new sites, improve existing ones and improve marketing. This will create sustainable jobs whilst allowing more people to experience the unique beauty of the region's forests, rivers and the Caribbean Sea.
The implementation partner of this project is Fundacion para el Ecodesarrollo y la Conservacion (FUNDAECO), a leading Guatemalan NGO, which has over 25 years of experience in conservation and sustainable community development. This project is also being done in close coordination with government agencies, and social and community organizations. FUNDAECO coordinates closely with the National Council of Protected Areas (CONAP), the governmental agency in charge of protected areas in Guatemala, with whom FUNDAECO has signed agreements for protected area co-management.