Image Conscious

For Sergio Izquierdo, photography is more than an art—it is a powerful tool for conservation. Over the past few years, this award-winning nature photographer and filmmaker has brought his keen eye to a subject that’s especially dear to him, his native Guatemala, where he’s been documenting the work of USAID’s Climate, Nature and Communities in Guatemala (CNCG), a program led by the Rainforest Alliance. "If God gave me a talent," says Izquierdo, "I had to use it for something positive to leave future generations a better world than the one I had."

Now, Izquierdo’s powerful images are on display in Antigua, Guatemala, in an exhibition that reflects the urgency of protecting that country’s forests and helping its rural communities develop sustainable livelihoods. On display until September 10, 2017, Vivimos del Bosque, Cuidamos el Bosque (We Live from the Forest, We Take Care of the Forest) is a striking visual tour of Guatemala’s abundant natural treasures and an homage to the people who are working so hard to conserve these spectacular landscapes.

Aerial shot of Lachuá Lake in Guatemala

Guatemala’s department of Alta Verapaz features marvelous natural jewels like Lachuá Lake, in the municipality of Cobán. The Rainforest Alliance’s CNCG Program has been promoting community-run tourism in this area as a way of helping the local people improve their livelihoods while protecting this breathtaking national park.

Photo credit: Sergio Izquierdo
Women harvesting pine nuts in a forest in Cajolea, Quetzaltenango, Guatemala

These women, who are part of the Mam indigenous community, are harvesting pine nuts in a forest in Cajolea, Quetzaltenango, to be sold later at a local market. As members of the Asociación de Desarrollo Integral ElQuetzal , their work supports reforestation efforts and helps local families sustain themselves economically.

Photo credit: Sergio Izquierdo
The Candelaria Caves National Park in Guatemala

The Candelaria Caves National Park is a visually dramatic tourist attraction located between Chisec and Raxruhá in Alta Verapaz. CNCG supports sustainable tourism in areas such as this because it provides a vital source of income for local communities.

Photo credit: Sergio Izquierdo
Residents of Todos Santos Cuchumatán in Huehuetenango collect rainwater for use in their homes.

Residents of Todos Santos Cuchumatán in Huehuetenango collect rainwater for use in their homes. The practice—just one of the measures they have implemented to adapt to the impacts of climate change—makes it easier for the community to access and stock up on this essential natural resource, sparing them the hours it would take to gather and transport water from the closest spring.

Photo credit: Sergio Izquierdo
An employee of FEDECOVERA, a federation of Alta Verapaz forestry cooperatives, inspects wood flooring in the group’s production facility in El Rancho, El Progreso.

An employee of FEDECOVERA, a federation of Alta Verapaz forestry cooperatives, inspects wood flooring in the group’s production facility in El Rancho, El Progreso. FEDECOVERA distributes for wood that’s been legally sourced from well-managed forests, an endeavor that promotes forest conservation and generates income for the members of these cooperatives.

Photo credit: Sergio Izquierdo
Honey production—as demonstrated by the Retalteco cooperative in Las Cruces, Petén

Honey production—as demonstrated in this image by the Retalteco cooperative in Las Cruces, Petén—provides yet another economic alternative, beyond sustainable timber harvesting, that allows Guatemala’s communities to earn money and conserve their forests at once.

Photo credit: Sergio Izquierdo
White-tailed deer crossing the Usumacinta River in Guatemala

Animals, such as the white-tailed deer (Odocoileus virginianus) seen here, sometimes cross the Usumacinta River, from Guatemala to México, in search of food and shelter as they flee threats to their safety.

Photo credit: Sergio Izquierdo
Donate today

Help conserve forests and restore balance to our planet

Make your gift go further (and greener) with a monthly pledge

DONATE