Saving threatened habitats worldwide

Treasure Chest Appeal

Treasure Chest Appeal

Target: £625,000

Raised: £625,000

Thanks to your overwhelming support this appeal is now complete!

There may be no more pirate battles over caskets filled with gold and jewels, but in Caribbean Guatemala, there is still a chest of wild treasures to be discovered, and a battle to be won.

The mountain range of Sierra Santa Cruz is the last unprotected rainforest in Caribbean Guatemala, and is home to a real treasure chest of species, from big cats and vultures to endemic frogs and scarab beetles.

Thanks to WLT supporters we have raised £625,000 so our partner in Guatemala, the Foundation for Ecodevelopment and Conservation (FUNDAECO), can create a reserve of 2,500 acres (1,000 hectares) protecting the core rainforest in the centre of this mountain range.

Have a look at WLT's Treasure Chest series on the WLT YouTube Channel for interviews with conservationists in Guatemala about the wildlife, threats and unique evolutionary history of Caribbean Guatemala here.

Which species are we trying to protect?

Ocelot and Ptychohyla sanctaecrucis

The tropical rainforests of Caribbean Guatemala are rich with biodiversity and unique, endangered wildlife which cannot be found anywhere else in the world.

The Santa Cruz Mountains are home to 142 mammal species, including several cats such as Ocelot, Puma, Margay and Jaguar, and three mammals that are classified as Endangered on the IUCN Red List: Baird’s Tapir, Black Howler Monkey and Black-handed Spider Monkey. There are also 78 species of bat, including two species of Vampire Bat (Desmodus rotundus and Diphylla ecaudata).

Caribbean Guatemala is a hotspot for American bird diversity, with its key position as a crossing between the continents. 207 ‘resident’ birds have been recorded in Santa Cruz year-round, including Great Curassow, Keel-billed Motmot and Ornate Hawk-Eagle, but it is also an incredibly important habitat for migrating birds. Some of the species that take their ‘winter holidays’ in Santa Cruz from the United States are the Endangered Golden-cheeked Warbler, Mississippi Kite, Philadelphia Vireo, Tennessee Warbler, American Redstart and Louisiana Waterthrush. It is also a stopover habitat for North American birds flying south to winter in South America, such as  Blackburnian Warbler, Eastern Wood-Pewee and Canada Warbler.

However, perhaps the most remarkable aspect of Santa Cruz’s biodiversity is the wealth of rare amphibians. More than a third of the amphibian species in the treasure chest are classified as threatened on the IUCN Red List, and three of these are Critically Endangered: Black-eyed Leaf Frog, Chinamococh Stream Frog and a rough skinned frog with no English name (Craugastor trachydermus). The latter two species cannot be found anywhere else in the world, and their survival depends on this habitat being protected. For more information about some of Sierra Santa Cruz's little-known frog species, click here.

Why is this rainforest under threat?

Sierra Santa CruzDeforestation surrounds the mountains of Sierra Santa Cruz and is creeping up the slopes. Most of this land has been converted into African Oil Palm plantations or cattle ranches. 

Guatemala is one of the best places in the world to produce Palm Oil, a highly saturated vegetable fat which is used in approximately half of all packaged food worldwide. Due to the high demand and Guatemala’s exceptionally high yield from the crop plant African Oil Palm, the industry in this country has been growing rapidly and has been putting a lot of pressure on clearing unprotected forests.

The other industry which puts pressure on these forests is beef production. Forests are cleared to make way for cattle ranches, as Guatemala produces beef for local consumption and exports to neighbouring countries. Unless conservationists act now, the thick rainforest covering this mountain range will be cleared to make way for further Oil Palm plantations and cattle ranches.

The funds raised will also support the salaries for a team of rangers who will patrol the forest, which is extremely important to protect the habitat from illegal loggers extracting valuable trees such as rosewood.

Completing the network: FUNDAECO’s Conservation Coast

Map of the Conservation CoastThe 2,500 acre (1,000 hectare) reserve will be managed and protected by WLT’s partner in Guatemala, FUNDAECO. This organisation has been working for wildlife conservation in Guatemala since 1990, and this project is part of their ‘Conservation Coast’ programme.

FUNDAECO have already successfully protected four areas from reef to rainforest in this region, and Sierra Santa Cruz is the last unprotected rainforest in Caribbean Guatemala.


Bookmark and Share

Read about us

  • News Online
  • RSS
  • eBulletin
  • Green Diary
  • Printed Newsletter

Contact Us

Tel: +44 (0)1986 874422

Follow us

Follow on Facebook  Follow on Twitter  Follow on Linkedin  Follow on GooglePlus  Follow on YouTube