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Guatemala – land of many trees

January 31, 2017

The word Guatemala means "land of many trees" in Mayan. But oil palms and cornfields now blanket the land once covered in forest. Some are hoping to change that by protecting woodland and local livelihoods. 

Global Ideas Guatemala
Image: Dw/K. Losch

Reforestation in the 'land of trees'

Project goal:  Helping people to help themselves by using kitchen gardens and sustainable forestry to save Guatemala's last rainforests
Project leader: OroVerde - The Tropical Forest Foundation is implementing the project
Project size: 3000 families are being supported in total through two projects 
Funding: 4 million euro provided by the International Climate Initiative (IKI) for one project. 1 million euro provided by the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development for the second project 
Biodiversity: The Sierra de las Minas biosphere reserve and Bocas del Polochic protected area are teeming with wildlife. Some 800 species of animal live here, including jaguars, Guatemala's national bird, the quetzal, and manatees. 
Guatemala is no longer the "land of many trees." Just a third of the country's area is still covered in rainforest, as woodland is cleared to make way for palm oil plantations and cornfields. The forest isn't the only victim: poor local communities are suffering too. They rarely benefit from the plantations and fields. OroVerde's "WaldGewinn" project wants to change that by establishing gardens and sustainable commercial forestry so locals can protect the forest and earn an income. This way people and the rare animals living in the forest can profit. 

A film by Katja Losch