This week, in EcoLogic’s regional office in Quetzaltenango, Guatemala (known locally as Xela, a homage to its indigenous name Xelaju), I sat down with Fernando Recancoj, long-time EcoLogic Field Technician in Totonicapán, Guatemala to get a better idea of what makes EcoLogic unique, why Fernando has stayed so committed to EcoLogic for 9 years, and why he is confident that EcoLogic the best place for him to create change and help rural and indigenous communities conserve their natural resources in Totonicapán.
Here’s a transcript of our talk:
Riley: Tell us how you became involved for the first time with EcoLogic and what is your role now?
Fernando: Well, the first time I came into contact with EcoLogic was through a consultation in which EcoLogic wanted to implement an irrigation system in the [reforestation] greenhouses in Totonicapán. So they spoke with me. At that point I was working, as I still do, in Totonicapán, and I offered them my services to install this system, they paid me for it, and this was the first time I had contact with EcoLogic.
See more of what Fernando has to say >>
What is this project?
This article is the first installation of a multiple-part story series intended to take a deep-dive into a specific issue — unsustainable timber extraction, or logging — at one of our long-standing project sites: the Communal Forest of Los Altos de San Miguel in Totonicapán, Guatemala. As the story unfolds, you will learn about the complexities of the logging issue, the players involved and their needs/motivations, the impact of logging on forest resources and biodiversity, as well as the unique history and current realities of Totonicapán, Guatemala.
Villages in Totonicapán show great solidarity through their ancestral council, the Association of Communal Mayors of los 48 Cantones, and organize as a community to restore and protect their communal forest. Despite their centuries of effort, and international partnership with EcoLogic that provides critical financial, technical, and project resources, challenges remain; climate change, population growth, and the needs and desires of rural and indigenous people have changed as the world becomes more globalized, economies merge, and traditional practices blur with modern trends.
For these reasons, EcoLogic, los 48 Cantones, and a multi-stakeholder working group in Totonicapán, are codesigning a public communications campaign built on an analysis of the situation and its unique context and history and engagement with village loggers and fuelwood consumers. Ultimately, the campaign will promote a collective path toward ending unsustainable and illegal logging, through the voices of the local people involved.
Read more on Totonicapán >>
This November, Guatemalan environmental journalist Lucy Calderón took a trip to our project sites in Totonicapán, Guatemala to write a story on how local environmental groups are confronting issues of climate change. Lucy and Guatemala Country Officer, Mario de León, met at a climate change event (Congreso Nacional de Cambio Climático) in Xela (Quetzaltenango), Guatemala and Mario invited Lucy to visit and experience our community-based conservation work. This December, after Lucy published an article about her experience with EcoLogic to various news outlets focused on conservation, she was awarded the first place prize by LatinClima and the Earth Journalism Network, CATIE (Tropical Agronomic Research and Teaching Center) and the Dutch Embassy in Costa Rica for the best Latin American story on adaptation to climate change.
Below, in Spanish and English, is Lucy’s article, and the videos and photography that accompany her story. We are very proud that she chose to write about our work, and we congratulate her for being awarded first place!
*Note: The original article was written in Spanish. EcoLogic intern Dulce Gutierrez has provided English translation for this article, and each Spanish paragraph has an English translation that immediately follows
Read more of Lucy’s article >>