Supporting communities to sustainably manage forests in Guatemala
About the project:
In 2018, the Forestry and Climate Change Fund (FCCF), an Initiative 20x20 financial partner, started to invest the conservation of forest ecosystems in Guatemala's Petén region. The Northern third of Petén is home to the world-renowned Maya Biosphere Reserve, a biodiversity hotspot that has suffered significant deforestation over the past decades. Outside of the Reserve, most of the existing forests have already suffered severe degradation and today offer little value to their owners.
To revitalize the land, halt deforestation, and create new sources of sustainable income, FCCF has developed a partnership with Fundación Naturaleza para la Vida (NPV), a Guatemalan foundation established in 1997. NPV's work helps local communities conserve their forests and manage them successfully. NPV primarily supports projects in the multiple land-use zone of the Maya Biosphere Reserve. By working with local communities, private landowners, grassroots organizations and public and private institutions, these concessions are managed sustainably in accordance with the law and to strict Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) standards. Starting small with an area of around 600 ha, the venture hopes to scale up and help more local land landowners, under the supervision of NPV, to produce high-quality forest and wood products for the market.
The project benefits rural families and landowners living in Petén, people who have a strong emotional relationship to the forests like Don Elías Calderón, who manages a forest area of 114 ha in Western Petén. By providing an economic alternative to clearcutting and the overexploitation of forest resources, the project helps to avoid the ongoing expansion of palm oil production and commodity agriculture in this vibrant forest ecosystem and contributes to the preservation of local community identities and livelihoods. The investment will also create jobs in forest management and wood processing for local people, incentivizing young people to stay in their communities instead of migrating to cities or other countries. The sustainable management of Petén's forests also will help Guatemala meet its climate goals: sustainably managed forests sequester carbon. By investing in Guatemala's forests, FCCF and NPV are investing in the country's future.