Saving threatened habitats worldwide

Tropical Forest and Wetlands, Guatemala

Sarstún Laguna by Marco Cereza

The land purchase of the Laguna Grande-Sarstún Reserve has been completed but World Land Trust (WLT) continues to support ongoing protection of the reserve through Keepers of the Wild.

The Laguna Grande-Sarstún Reserve is located within an area of tropical forest and wetland considered to be the single largest remnant of lowland and inundated tropical rainforest in Caribbean Guatemala. The reserve is just south of the border with Belize.

Find out how the WLT is protecting forest and wetlands in Guatemala...

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Project aim

WLT is raising funds through the Keepers of the Wild Appeal to support a ranger, Ricardo Caal, to work within the Laguna Grande-Sarstún Reserve. Ricardo has been with the reserve since 2011, where his main role is to patrol the protected area, on foot and by canoe, to make sure there is no hunting or illegal removal of timber. 



How WLT is helping

With the support of WLT, Guatemalan NGO FUNDAECO has purchased 1,668 acres (675 hectares. WLT now continues to raise funds to support a ranger for the reserve and to ensure its ongoing protection.

Urgent funding needed

This project is supported through the Keepers of the Wild Appeal. 

Donate to Keepers of the Wild »

A West Indian Manatee is listed as Vulnerable, however the Antillean subspecies is listed as Endangered. © Germanico Barrios


A high diversity of plant and animal species including:


As many as 57 endemic species.


49 species including 3 endemic Salamanders.


84 species including: the Neotropical Otter (Lutra longicaudis), Mexican Black Howler Monkey (Alouatta pigra), Baird’s Tapir (Tapirus bairdii), West Indian Manatee (Trichechus manatus) and five species of big cat including Jaguar (Panthera onca);


Harpy Eagle (Harpia harpyja), Mangrove Swallow (Tachycineta albilinea) and Reddish Egret (Egretta rufescens).

The area is also a very important stop over and breeding site for migratory birds.

Learn more about animals in our reserves »

Threats to Caribbean Guatemala

  • Lowland and inundated tropical forests of the Caribbean Region of Guatemala have almost all disappeared with less than 20% of their original surface still remaining
  • The greatest threats to this area include: cattle ranching and loss of land to agriculture
The Rio Sarstún
The Rio Sarstún and surrounding forest and lagoons. © FUNDAECO

The reserve

Laguna Grande Sarstún

Total size supported by WLT: 1,668 acres (675 ha)

The property is located right at the centre of the largest contiguous riparian forest on the Guatemalan side of the Rio Sarstún, in an area that encompasses a unique system of lagoons, mangroves, inundated forests, lowland forests, and karstic mountain forests between sea level and 385m.

FUNDAECO aims to provide alternative employment and income generating opportunities for the local Q´eqchí communities located south of the Reserve, thus reducing the long term possibilities of encroachment for illegal resource extraction.

Local people are very much part of this project and FUNDAECO works closely with the nearest community to the Reserve, where they are carrying out two development projects: Training of Q’eqchí women as tourism caterers; and aquaculture of native species of fish with local fishermen.

Map of Laguna Grande Sarstún Reserve »

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