The Althelia Climate Fund (ACF) has participated in a EUR 10.2 million (US$11.1 million) investment programme in Izabal, on the Caribbean Coast of Guatemala. The investment aims to finance the long-term conservation of up to 54,451 hectares of threated of natural forest in and around the region’s network of protected areas. It aims to avoid over 4.1 million tonnes of CO2 emissions through avoided deforestation.
The investment also enables the restoration of over 1,750 hectares of degraded lands situated in buffer zones around the protected areas, thus bolstering conservation efforts in the process. A diverse variety of agricultural is being produced under agroforestry systems including cardamom, xate, pepper, rambutan, lychee, cinnamon and timber. This improves the livelihoods of small scale farmers and their families, ensuring a transition towards sustainable land use in and around the protected areas whilst working in partnership with local communities who suffer the most as their natural forests are lost and degraded.
The remaining forests of the Guatemalan Caribbean are highly important for biodiversity conservation. These forests are an important migratory corridor: over 120 species of migratory birds use the Caribbean forests as wintering or stopover sites. The forests of this region also provide key environmental services for local towns and communities, including drinking water, protection against sedimentation of port navigation channels, reducing the impacts of natural disasters, timber, and a variety of non-timber forest products, including xate, black pepper, cardamom and cocoa. At the landscape level, the region provides a unique opportunity for tourism, with its unique natural and cultural heritage. However, these forests are also highly threatened due to deforestation and unsustainable land uses activities, such as ‘slash and burn’ agriculture and extensive cattle ranching.
ACF’s investment is financing the establishment of new nature reserves and protected areas that also address the needs of the local human population, helping to safeguard the forests with the highest risk. In addition, it is providing resources to manage and scientifically monitor the existing protected areas and surrounding buffer zones, which have historically been under-resourced and vulnerable to illegal exploitation. A new sustainable development paradigm is being catalysed through investment in over 1,000 hectares of agroforestry systems. This is being done in partnership with local landowners and communities, thus providing new revenue streams opportunities. This is be coupled with an injection of ‘patient’ capital into the regions eco-tourism network to open new sites, improve existing ones and improve marketing. This will create sustainable jobs whilst allowing more people to experience the unique beauty of the region’s forests, rivers and the Caribbean Sea.
This investment is implemented on the ground in partnership with a leading Guatemalan NGO: Fundacion para el Ecodesarrollo y la Conservacion (FUNDAECO)— which has over 25 year’s experience in conservation and sustainable community development. This work is done in close coordination with government agencies, social and community organizations. FUNDAECO coordinates closely with the National Council of Protected Areas (CONAP), the governmental agency in charge of protected areas in Guatemala, and with whom FUNDAECO has signed agreements for protected area co-management.
The project is double verified to the Verified Carbon Standard and the Climate, Community and Biodiversity Standard.