Protecting endangered ecosystems and enriching biodiversity

Situated in the Sierra de Lacandón National Park in northern Guatemala, Lacandón Forests for Life conserves the tropical rainforest and its rich biodiverse ecosystems by working closely with local communities. The habitat of endangered species, including the jaguar and the tapir is protected while delivering an exceptional number of community benefits that include improving access to: electricity; schools; skill training; safe water and create enhanced opportunities for women. On top of this, improved forest management and prevention of deforestation increase carbon sequestration, which contributes to global climate change mitigation efforts.

The context

The Sierra del Lacandón National Park, sits within the Key Biodiversity Area (KBA) Selva Maya Corridor, which contains the second most extensive tract of continuous tropical rainforest in the Americas after the Amazon. However due to encroaching settlements, forest fires, poor management of natural resources, illegal logging and agricultural activities, the rate of deforestation is high.

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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