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Communities of the Maya Biosphere Reserve teach how to develop tourism enterprises and forest management plans

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Community leaders from El Salvador, Colombia and Guatemala participated in an exchange of successful experiences.

Petén (Guatemala), February 14, 2020. Under the framework of the project “Communities, forests and biodiversity: promoting dialogue, exchanges and forest value chains for climate change adaptation and mitigation”, knowledge exchange took place between leaders and representatives of community grassroots organisations from El Salvador, Colombia and Guatemala, who live in the Maya Biosphere Reserve. The project is implemented by ICCO Cooperation through the EUROCLIMA+ Programme, with funding from the European Union.

Representatives of the Petén Forest Communities Association (ACOFOP), the Major Community Council of the Popular Famers Organisation of Alto Atrato in Colombia (COCOMOPOCA) and the Association for Municipal Reconstruction and Development of El Salvador (ARDM) participated in the meeting.

The community forest management model implemented by ACOFOP through community forest concessions has allowed the communities living in the Maya Biosphere Reserve to live off the forest without damaging it. They have been able to consolidate forest management plans, exploit timber and non-timber products from the forest, and develop tourism and other businesses to process the wood. In addition, they have consolidated their relationship with the markets through the FORESCOM company.


All the lessons learned are part of a community work model that can be replicated in other countries of the region. Therefore, as part of the strengthening of capacities in community grassroots and indigenous people’s organisations in the forest territories, this process was developed to share experiences among community leaders.

Generating development alternatives in the forest 

According to Glenis Esther Garrido, a COCOMOPOCA representative and participant in this exchange, “for the communities that live in the Alto Atrato of Colombia, this space has been very helpful, because it has allowed us to identify other ways of relating to the forest and living from the forest, but above all to find real alternatives through which we can improve our economic income and living conditions, preserving the ecosystems”.

During the exchange, the Carmelitas community in the Petén, Guatemala, was visited to learn about the community forestry enterprises in which Xate palm, wood and ramón seeds are processed. The ACOFOP team demonstrated the system for monitoring territories with drones, an effort that has contributed to the conservation of the areas, fire prevention, and the supervision and monitoring of illegal activities that may occur in the territories.


The Association for Municipal Reconstruction and Development (ARDM) of El Salvador has been working for some years on a process to protect and manage the Cinquera forest. Learning about ACOFOP’s experience is an incentive to identify alternatives and strike a balance between forest management and the use of products that come out of the forest. These efforts create synergy between the organisations and strengthen the regional platform in Mesoamerica and Colombia.

Learn more about Communities, Forests and Biodiversity projects here.


EUROCLIMA+  is a programme financed by the European Union and co-financed by the Federal Government of Germany through the Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ), as well as by the Governments of France and Spain, to promote environmentally sustainable and climate-resilient development in 18 Latin American countries, particularly for the benefit of the most vulnerable populations. The Programme is implemented under the synergistic work of seven agencies: the Spanish Agency for International Development Cooperation (AECID), the French Development Agency (AFD), the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC), Expertise France (EF), the International and Ibero-American Foundation for Administration and Public Policy (FIIAPP), the German Society for International Cooperation (GIZ), and UN Environment.

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