News article

United Kingdom supports sustainable development in Petén’s communities

This world location news article was published under the 2010 to 2015 Conservative and Liberal Democrat coalition government

British Ambassador, Sarah Dickson, and the President of Guatemala, Otto Pérez Molina, witnessed on 5 September the signature of the third phase of a British financed conservation agreement.

Through sustainable development projects and forest preservation this initiative seeks to benefit up to four thousand people in the Uaxactún community who live in the department.

The local partner, the Management and Conservation Organization (OMYC) has administered a 25-year concession contract of more than 83 thousand hectares of subtropical forest in Uaxactún (an area where 1,600 people live) dedicated to the production of wood, gum, xate and the promotion of tourism.

OMYC will benefit from the program “Incentive Agreements for Conservation” for two years. The program is based on contracts between local communities, the government represented by the National Council of Protected Areas (CONAP, in Spanish), NGOs, and donors through which the communities commit to protect biodiversity and, in return, receive aid to cover basic needs such as access to health and education. The communities choose the incentives, and the contracts are designed and administrated by the communities’ inhabitants and authorities.

The United Kingdom’s Department of Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA), through its Darwin Initiative Program, granted £269,681 last year for a three-year project focused on protecting forests in the Mayan Biosphere Reserve in Petén.

The Wildlife Conservation Society, in association with Conservation International, CONAP, other institutions and local leaders, is implementing the “Evaluating Community Agreements on Conservation of the Mayan Biosphere Reserve in Guatemala” project, which is focused on four goals that are to be reached in four years (2013-2016):

  • Implement four community agreements that will allow the conservation of more than 143,837 hectares of forest and that will benefit some four thousand people.

  • Demonstrate the impact of the conservation community agreements, gather community experiences, and evaluate biodiversity and the impact of poverty reduction.

  • Produce educational material that exhibits learned lessons according to the unique needs of the communities.

  • Recommend the making of specific policies taking into account the opportunities, limitations and other versions of the conservation agreements.

To mark this event, British Ambassador, Sarah Dickson said: “I’m pleased with the on-going commitment of the United Kingdom in favour of the efforts of conservation. The Darwin Initiative has helped many of the poorest communities around the world to protect some of the planet’s most important natural areas, including Guatemala. We want to continue working with Guatemalan authorities in our joint task to reduce poverty and increase the wellbeing of all the inhabitants and protecting the environment at the same time”.