Guatemala has followed the trend of accelerated deforestation and forest degradation in the tropics, which has led to risks, impacts and natural disasters such as Hurricane Stan. These problems have been aggravated by climate change and poverty, which are widespread throughout the region, increasing its vulnerability to natural phenomena. However, Guatemala still has large forest areas, which are traditionally managed by indigenous communities, as the country has the highest rate of indigenous groups in Meso-America. A case in point are the departments of Huehuetenango and Quiché, which account for 12% of the national forest cover. Nevertheless, these forests are threatened by new pressures from agro-industries so there is an urgent need to carry out efforts to avoid the loss of forest resources and implement integrated development alternatives for indigenous communities.
In order to reduce deforestation and forest degradation, INAB and Calmecac are seeking to develop sustainable forest management and establish financial mechanisms derived from the management and conservation of resources and environmental services in 16 municipalities of the Departments of Huehuetenago and Quiché, while at the same time providing a climate change adaptation mechanism. Thus, this project is aimed at consolidating information and agreements with local communities on the management of natural resources, while generating quantitative and qualitative data on forest resources and environmental services potential in the area. Given the importance of the participation of local social stakeholders (from Guatemala and Mexico) and the need to raise awareness on the significance of forests and climate change impacts on the implementation of a REDD project, the establishment of a local stakeholder network is also envisaged to create effective social processes geared to poverty and vulnerability reduction. This pre-project is an innovative program as it links and creates social dynamics between different sectors based on new models of participatory management of natural resources and sharing of benefits at the local level.