Community Forestry in the Verapaces Region of Guatemala
In the environmentally rich departments of Alto Verapaz and Bajo Verapaz, we are working with community-managed and Programa de Incentivos Forestales-supported plantations to increase financial returns through the implementation of sustainable management practices.
In addition, we are collaborating with two different umbrella organizations that produce pallet components and other products, and supporting 11 new small and medium enterprises (SMEs) in an effort to improve business skills as well as competitiveness.
Biodiversity conservation -- one of the key objectives of our TREES work in Guatemala -- is particularly precarious in Verapaces. In an effort to protect native flora and fauna, we intend to extend Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) certification to 2,036 acres (824 hectares) of pine plantations owned by members of the Federation of Cooperatives of the Verapaces (FEDECOVERA).
We've also identified 46,950 acres (19,000 hectares) of forestland in and around the Lachua Lagoon Reserve for potential FSC certification. We aim to certify this land under a stepwise approach, in collaboration with a newly established civil organization, Fundalachua, and four local community associations. This critically threatened area -- which boasts the largest remaining block of contiguous native forest in Guatemala -- will also be evaluated for the development of a carbon project from avoided deforestation, forest restoration and native species planting.
We aim to achieve the following in the Lachua Lagoon Reserve:
- Certify 46,000 acres (19,000 hectares) of natural forest to FSC standards;
- Facilitate one pilot project for forest carbon credits on 7,400 acres (3,000 hectares) of plantation and natural forest in the Lachua buffer zone; and
- Strengthen the business capacity and market linkages of two SMEs working in sustainable forest management.
Another potential forest carbon project in the Verapaces region would be based on carbon sequestered in 7,400 acres (3,000 hectares) of pine plantations owned by FEDECOVERA members. The Rainforest Alliance will provide specialized technical assistance to evaluate this initiative and determine its feasibility, compliance with existing rules and potential for voluntary markets. Afterward, technical documents will be developed and initial market links established.