Protecting endangered ecosystems and strengthening biodiversity

Lacandón Forests for Life is situated in the Sierra de Lacandón National Park in northern Guatemala, and aims to conserve the tropical rainforest and its biodiverse ecosystems in cooperation with local communities. Endangered species, such as the jaguar (panthera onca) and the tapir (tapirus bairdii) are protected, and sustainable forest management activities support the livelihood of local communities.

The context

The Sierra del Lacandón National Park, located in the Mayan Biosphere Reserve in Northern Guatemala, is considered a biodiversity hotspot, but it's also one of the most endangered ecosystems in the world. The project area, spanning 206,268 hectares, provides refuge to endangered species such as the scarlet macaw, whitelipped peccary and the jaguar. However, the rate of deforestation is high due to encroaching settlements, forest fires, illegal logging and agricultural activities.

The project

The Lacandón Forests for Life project reduces deforestation by controlling illegal timber extraction and assuring the legality of land use through sustainable forest management. The project also aims to address the cause of deforestation by improving the livelihoods of communities located within the National Park and surrounding areas. This includes the strengthening of governance through cooperatives, supporting sustainable economic livelihoods through technical workshops, and increasing environmental awareness through training.

The benefits

Capacity building is a key aspect of this project, and women in particular benefit from governance, the development of a non-timber forest products value chain and environmental education. Surrounding communities enjoy a strengthened economy and improved environmental governance with support from project implementation. Sustainable forestry activities (such as conservation management, agroforestry and reforestation) provide a source of income for local communities while conserving natural resources. The project promotes health, family planning and environmental awareness through educational programs.

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