How do you create a thriving environment for the diverse nature and culture of Guatemala?
The diversity of Guatemala’s landscape – from the volcanoes in the west, to the rainforests of the north and the coral-fringed east coast – is matched by the diversity of its people.
Protecting the country’s natural heritage means creating a thriving environment for not only wildlife, but for all the communities that live there; improving living-standards for the urbanites of Guatemala City, the indigenous communities of the highlands, and the Garifuna fishermen of the Caribbean coast.
FUNDAECO, a non-for-profit conservation organisation, works in partnership with communities within three different eco-regions across the country – protecting 450,000 hectares of threatened forest (that’s over one million, one hundred thousand football pitches). They know that if they are to successfully conserve the rich-biodiversity within their country they must empower local people so that they can take control of their future.
As part of this goal, FUNDAECO help indigenous communities reclaim their rights to their traditional lands and ensure that these rights are recognised within Guatemalan law, while creating conditions and providing resources to protect the environment.
They go on to set-up social projects within the protected areas, such as:
- Training local indigenous Q’eqchí women within eco-tourism to create female entrepreneurs within rural, low-income communities.
- Establishing micro-enterprises so that local people can use environmental resources in a sustainable way, such as creating small-scale organic coffee cultivation.
- Running medical clinics that have helped 20,000 of the most impoverished and marginalised indigenous women gain access to reproductive health.
These successful projects, and many more, ensure that local people benefit from living in or surrounding the reserves. It is hoped that it will allow them to save their natural world because it can create a sustainable future for their communities – generation after generation.