The departments of Huehuetenango and Quiche are situated in the western highlands of Guatemala and cover nearly all of the Cuchumatanes mountain range as well as the lowland plains. The 13,000 hectares of forest are rich in biodiversity and include four significant watershed areas that provide water to over 200,000 people. Unfortunately, illegal logging, slash and burn agriculture, poaching, poorly managed construction and development (in particular of a major highway), and other activities threaten these forests and the biological and human life that depend on them. To address these issues, EcoLogic works with local partner the Northern Border Municipalities Alliance (MFN)—a coalition of municipalities we helped establish—to collaborate with communities to manage and restore degraded areas, demarcate and protect water sources, train forest guardians, construct fuel-efficient stoves, and promote the adoption of agroforestry practices, among other activities.
Local Partner: The Northern Border Municipalities Alliance (MFN)
Year Project Began: 2005
Recent project highlights:
- Salvador Toc, a Guatemalan farmer, EcoLogic collaborator, and early adopter of alley-cropping agroforestry practices, received Heifer International’s Golden Talent Award for “visionary leadership” in his community.
- Sixty-nine forested hectares are managed by female forest guardians.
- EcoLogic began supporting a radio program started by forest guardian Roman Jolomna Caal to spread the word and promote environmental education and protection.
- EcoLogic provides technical guidance and support to local agroforestry farmers seeking financial compensation under a Guatemalan program called “PINPEP” which was created to encourage local conservation efforts.
- Blog: Under the Weather in Upper Guatemala
- eNews: Expanding Agroforestry Across Ixcan, Guatemala
- eNews: Conservation Workshops for Chuj Women
- Blog: Adventures in Agroforestry
- eNews: Agroforestry: Spreading the Word
- eNews: Why Plant Trees?
Year Project Began: 2005
Size of Project Site: 13,000 hectares
Population of Project Site: 371,286
Languages Spoken: Chuj, K’ekchi, Ixil, Jakalteko, Mam, Spanish
Sources of Income: Farming, timber, resource extraction
Unique Environmental and Geographic Features: Huehuetenango—a water recharge area for the Pojom, Nenton, Ixcan, Xacbal and Salinas rivers—is also home to the highest density of unique native plant species in Guatemala.
Ecosystems: Tropical wet forest, tropical dry forest, tropical rainforest
Endangered Species: At least 65
Select species at this project site:
- Big-leaf mahogany (Swietenia macrophylla)
- Black-handed spider monkey (Ateles geoffroyi)
- Crested-tailed deer mouse (Habromys lophurus)
- Dary’s burrowing snake (Adelphicos daryi)
- Guatemalan bromeliad salamander (Dendrotriton rabbi)
- Guatemalan fir (Abies guatemalensis)
- Kapok tree (Ceiba pentandra)
- Spanish cedar (Cedrela odorata)
- Thomas’ sac-winged bat (Balantiopteryx io)
- Van Gelder’s bat (Bauerus dubiaquercus)
Select progress made by EcoLogic and local partners in 2012-2013:
- Established 33 hectares of agroforestry parcels.
- Reforested 70 hectares.
- Ran seven environmental education workshops at secondary schools.
- Built 66 fuel-efficient stoves.
- Trained 16 community leaders to become forest guardians who are now actively promoting sustainable environmental practices.
- Created four new greenhouses.
- Improved and supported an additional six greenhouses, including installing irrigation systems, seeding several thousand native trees, and applying organic herbicides and fungicides.
- Trained 100 families in beekeeping practices and provided hives.