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PROBOSQUE: Protecting Forests while Improving the Livelihoods of Rural and Indigenous

PROBOSQUE is a successful incentive mechanism established in Guatemala to stimulate forest restoration, increase climate resilience, and spur economic growth in rural and Indigenous communities.

In Central America, farmers and landowners often convert forest areas into land for agriculture and livestock grazing. Human activities like deforestation and slash-and-burn agriculture severely threaten biodiversity and local ecosystems, impact climate, and lead to water scarcity.

In 1997, to tackle this situation, Guatemala's government developed one of the first public incentive programs in Central America with the goal of ending these practices and fostering the country's forestry development.

Why Public Incentives are Important

Despite restoration's economic and ecological benefits, smallholder farmers often need help to afford the upfront costs. Therefore, public incentives can provide key additional resources that tip the balance in favor of carrying out activities like reforestation, agroforestry, assisted and natural regeneration, and accelerate the restoration of degraded lands.

Ixcán, Guatemala

Incentive programs can facilitate public-private partnerships that unlock private investments and develop sustainable business models. Accelerating the private sector's involvement can generate employment. In degraded landscapes, the loss of agricultural productivity can force people to migrate to urban areas to look for employment. However, public incentives can enable value chains that generate jobs in each stage of the restoration process.

What is the PROBOSQUE Program?

PROBOSQUE is an incentive program created by the Instituto Nacional de Bosques (INAB) that seeks to conserve and restore forests in upper watersheds, mangrove forests, and riparian zones by providing financial incentives to smallholders for forest conservation and sustainable land uses, such as agroforestry.

The program aims to support landowners, tenants, cooperatives, indigenous communities, and farmers by paying yearly installments for forest stewardship activities, including planting and maintaining trees and managing and protecting forest areas on private and community lands.

The main goal of this program is to:

  • Increase forest and tree cover through the recovery, restoration, sustainable management, and protection of forest lands.

  • Increase sustainable forest productivity.

  • Stimulate economic growth and generate employment in rural communities.

  • Diversify agricultural production.

  • Contribute to providing food security, water quality, and energy security to rural and Indigenous communities while reducing the effects of climate change.

With the program’s implementation, between 2017- 2046 INAB seeks to achieve:

  • The protection of water sources and soils and stabilize deforestation rate

  • 1.5 million families benefited /year

  • USD 625.7 million added to the rural economy

  • More than 20,000 direct jobs/year and 60,000 indirect jobs/year

How EcoLogic has Facilitated Access to the PROBOSQUE Program

As part of our work at EcoLogic, we provide support and help build the capacity of communities to develop the management plans needed to access the PROBOSQUE incentives.

In Ixcán, we have collaborated with INAB to ensure that our agroforestry model – including a mix of species such as Inga edulis, cardamom, and mahogany – meets all of their requirements to qualify for PROBOSQUE incentives. Since 2017, we have worked with 200 farmers who have been able to receive an additional $750,000 through their participation in the program.

The technical assistance that EcoLogic provides to farmers has been of great benefit and is helping local farmers to improve the yield of their crops at the same time reducing the impact on the forest caused by slash-and-burn agriculture. The lands here are regenerating.

In the Sarstún Multiple Use Area - a protected area in Guatemala - we are working with the communities of San Juan and Barra Sarstún to restore and protect mangrove forests.

As part of that process, we have helped them obtain long-term leases of the areas that will be conserved and restored so that the conservation and agroforestry efforts can enroll in the PROBOSQUE program. In 2023, we expect they will receive the first annual incentive payment. Mangrove conservation activities qualify for 10 years of payments.

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