Lowland and inundated forests have a unique ecological role and importance for biodiversity as they link ecological niches across the region. Without them, Guatemala’s protected areas would be little more than ‘biological islands’ – the protected mountaintops where most of the region’s protected areas have been declared.
Projects in Guatemala
Laguna Brava is in the western highlands of Guatemala. The lake – known locally as Yolnabaj – takes up just under half the area of the property. The remainder is made up of some of the last remnants of the region’s montane tropical karst forest on the northern, southern and eastern side of the lake.
Laguna Grande Sarstún
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.
Sierra Santa Cruz
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.
Tapon Creek lies within the designated Río Sarstún Multiple Use Area and shares many of the characteristics of Laguna Grande Sarstún Reserve. Río Sarstún Multiple Use Area spans almost 87,000 acres (35,200 hectares).
Yal Unin Yul Witz
Located in Huehuetenango Department, Yal Unin Yul Witz is a priority for conservation because it is an Alliance for Zero Extinction (AZE) site, and a vital habitat for endemic and highly threatened amphibians.
The reserve’s official name is a direct reference to the area’s incredible amphibian diversity and endemism; in the local language Q’anjob’al, salamanders are referred to as ‘sleeping child’ and the name Yal Unin Yul Witz means ‘Sleeping Child Between Mountains’.
Carbon offsetting in Guatemala
The REDD+ project for Caribbean Guatemala: The Conservation Coast, is now part of World Land Trust’s Carbon Balanced portfolio. The project was developed by World Land Trust’s Guatemalan partner FUNDAECO, in partnership with Althelia Climate Fund.
The project aims to protect approximately 316,000 acres of tropical rainforest and other habitats to prevent the area from being cleared to make way for cropland and pasture.
While locking up carbon, the project will also ensure a safe environment for a wealth of Central American wildlife, such as Baird’s Tapir, Jaguar and West Indian Manatee.
Supporting this project will also have a positive impact on local communities. FUNDAECO has developed eco-tourism programmes run by local people, opened clinics specialising in women’s health and improved the sustainability of livelihoods such as fishing and agriculture.