Beekeeping and tree nurseries help promote forest restoration

Producing honey in Guatemala; Photo: OroVerde

Producing honey in Guatemala; Photo: OroVerde

A ministerial-level Bonn Challenge Latin America meeting was held in Guatemala in early May 2018. The key themes were cooperation with the private sector and development of new financing models for effective forest protection. Jochen Flasbarth, State Secretary at the German Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation and Nuclear Safety (BMU), attended the meeting and emphasised the importance of the Bonn Challenge. Guatemala has signed up to the Challenge and aims to restore 1.2 million hectares of forest over the next 30 years. Following the meeting, State Secretary Flasbarth visited the WaldGewinn (forest restoration) project, which has been supported by BMU’s International Climate Initiative (IKI) since 2015.

BMU State Secretary Jochen Flasbarth visits the WaldGewinn project in Guatemala; Photo: OroVerde.

OroVerde - The Tropical Forest Foundation is running a pilot project in Guatemala in cooperation with local partners Defensores de la Naturaleza and Heifer International Guatemala, making an important contribution to achieving the targets of the Bonn Challenge. State Secretary Jochen Flasbarth and a small delegation were able to experience the project’s work first-hand.

More than 300 beekeepers, ranging from teenagers to pensioners, are involved in the project and provide a textbook example of beekeeping and honey production as they look after a total of 1,867 beehives; Photos: OroVerde.

In the Bocas del Polochic region, the delegation visited Lake Izabal, which is home to a wide diversity of flora and fauna. In the small municipality of Santa Rosa Balandra, they met local small farmers who are earning additional income by producing honey. More than 300 volunteers of all ages are currently involved in the project. They have received training in beekeeping and now manage a total of 1,867 hives. The protection and regeneration of areas of woodland with bee-friendly tree varieties is also helping to protect the forest effectively.

These colonies of bees are playing their part in protecting Guatemala’s rainforest and ensuring reforestation; Photo: OroVerde.

Through the OroVerde project, small farmers are also playing an active part in reforestation. Their initiative has resulted in a large number of tree nurseries being planted. People outside the municipality are now looking at setting up similar initiatives. The WaldGewinn project is currently supporting 35 municipalities. Nine different groups of small farmers have also set up informal committees and are selling their produce at fair prices.

Local volunteers in the tree nursery in Santa Rosa Balandra; Photo: Helfer International Guatemala.

A monitoring system is improving forest and biodiversity protection and recording the potential impact of the project on biodiversity and local communities. At present, 101,378 hectares of forest are being monitored regularly. The project has so far planted 133 hectares of new agroforestry systems and replanted 111 hectares of forest.

The next stages will focus on strengthening local structures and developing the value chains for cocoa, honey and ramón nuts. The WaldGewinn team is also working on marketing and financing the product range and exploring opportunities including crop input financing and the provision of working capital.

Saplings in a tree nursery; Photo: OroVerde.

Further information on the WaldGewinn project: www.oroverde.de/waldgewinn (in German)