Guatemala, Izabal where 2354 hectares have been acquired for conservation
ABC has identified the Izabal Department region between Honduras and Belize, also called the “Conservation Coast” as a priority for migratory bird conservation. Over the past decade 65% of the original forest cover has been lost in this region, under the pressures of deforestation and unsustainable land uses activities. ABC and our partner FUNDAECO are working to protected remaining blocks of forest and work to develop agroforestry programs in the bufferzones of the protected areas to provide habitat for migratory birds through working lands.
The variety of ecosystems has made the Conservation one of the Guatemalas’s biodiversity hotspots, harboring almost 50% of the country’s biodiversity, including 57 species of amphibians (including multiple AZE species), 89 reptiles, and 471 bird species, of which over 100 are migratory. Due to its extremely high biological value for birds and biodiversity, ABC has been working in this region over the past five years with local partner Foundation for Eco-Development and Conservation (FUNDAECO) in the creation and management of a regional network of protected areas. ABC has assisted with the acquisition of multiple properties protecting over 3,360 hectares at key sites for migratory birds. Since 2014 ABC has helped FUNDACO purchase and protect 2354 of these hectares. Together we are now expanding from our “protected area” conservation strategy to a “landscape” strategy to work with farmers and producers of various products to increase forest cover in and around protected areas within the Birdscape.
To address the drivers of forest loss and promote restoration of forest cover we are establishing an agro-forestry program with local landowners that support the production wildlife friendly crops and products such as black pepper, cardamom, rubber, cacao, and mahogany within the Conservation Coast. Initial financial analysis show these a products with positive outlooks. Over the next 10-15 years we aim to positively impact as many as 40,000 ha through successful implementation of agro-forestry production systems.
Our strategy will include an investment program to direct funding to opportunities that improve production methods to improve land use and habitat conditions and produce financial returns for landowners and investors.
Different size landowners require different support to create the desired ecological and financial changes. ABC and FUNDAECO will identify and implement solutions for working with landowners of different size classes. Part of our program will include the development of BioCenters which will act as training grounds for other landowners as they will be demonstration sites for the production of different productions and production methods. Additionally, agroforestry models using native species are being monitored for benefits to birds and financial outputs at this time.
Results of this work will lead to an improvement in the protection of forest blocks through decreased pressure, restoration of cattle pastures to increase in habitat availability for birds through agroforestry implementation, increased carbon sequestration and improved livelihoods for local landowners.
Andrew Rothman, firstname.lastname@example.org
FUNDAECO, Southern Wings