Youth Restoring the Nature of Sarstun

Person Icon

RS7712_DSC_0123-hprThe Sarstun River Multiple Use Zone puts in place legal protections for the land on the Guatemalan side of the Sarstun River. Both the river (which demarcates part of the border between Guatemala and Belize) and the land are critical resources to surrounding communities and important habitat for a host of endangered species. Oil, timber, mining, and other extractive industries, however, which already are endangering the area’s natural resources, are keen to increase their activities. In addition, the growing local population faces challenges in sustainably managing their hunting, fishing, and timber-harvesting practices, as well as in effectively dealing with sewage and waste. For example, it is increasingly difficult for people to obtain reliable potable water, and water-borne illnesses are on the rise. In partnership with the Mayan Association for Well-Being in the Sarstun Region (APROSARSTUN), a local organization EcoLogic helped establish, we are providing technical assistance and support for a variety of activities, including constructing and managing native tree nurseries, building and maintaining fuel-efficient stoves and composting latrines, and establishing agroforestry parcels.

Local Partner: Mayan Association for Well-Being in the Sarstun Region (APROSARSTUN)
Year Project Began: 2007

Sun Icon

Cleaning a field SarstunRecent project highlights:

  • EcoLogic field technician Jose Domingo Caal led institutional strengthening and expansion activities for our local partner, APROSARSTUN, that included establishing an office and conducting small rural business development training.
  • A team of students from the Edward J. Bloustein School of Planning and Public Policy at Rutgers university created a set of maps, based on data about the Sarstun region, that illustrate a variety of issues, actualities, and trends, including tree cover and vegetation density, flood plains, temperature and climate change predictions, pollution and development, biodiversity hotspots, and  fisheries activity. The team visited the region in early 2013 to present their findings to community members.
  • eNews: Coastal Guatemalan Community Gets Cooking
  • Blog: Adventures in Agroforestry, Part 2
  • Blog: Long Way ‘Round

Tree Icon

Country: Guatemala

Year Project Began: 2007

Partners: Mayan Association for Well-Being in the Sarstun Region (APROSARSTUN)

Size of Project Site: 35,202 hectares

Population of Project Site: 3,018

Languages Spoken: K’ekchi, Garifuna, Spanish

Peoples: K’ekchi, Garifuna, Culi, mestizo, Spanish descent

Sources of Income: Subsistence farming, tourism, industrial monoculture farming, fishing, mineral extraction,

Unique Environmental and Geographic Features: The Sarstun River forms part of the border between Guatemala and Belize. Forty percent of Guatemala’s floral species are endemic to the Sarstun River Multiple Use Zone.

Ecosystems: Tropical wet forest, wetland, coastal/marine

Endangered Species: At least 44

Solutions: AgroforestryCarbonPluscommunity collaboration, composting latrinesfuel-efficient stoves, greenhouses and nurserieswatershed management


Van Gelder's bat

Van Gelder’s bat

Select species at this project site:


Stove SarstunSelect progress made by EcoLogic and local partners in 2012-2013:

  • Established 17.2 hectares of agroforestry plots in five communities.
  • Built 150 fuel-efficient woodstoves in four communities.
  • Achieved legalization of two community boards for the management of natural resources.
  • Built two greenhouses.
  • Demarcated a community microwatershed.
  • Conducted five workshop training sessions in agroforestry production.
  • Conducted two trainings in fuel-efficient stove maintenance for the nine communities, where 263 families have fuel-efficient stoves.
  • Arranged for the training of two APROSARSTUN field technicians in the use of Global Information Systems (GIS) mapping.