Location: Franja Transversal del Norte (Northern transverse strip)
Year joined IMFN: 2008
Area of Model Forest: 53,523 hectares
Regional affiliation: Ibero-American Model Forest Network
Aldea Salacuim, Coban, Alta Verapaz, Guatemala
Forest profile and resources
The Lachuá Model Forest (Bosque Modelo Lachuá = BML) covers the Laguna Lachuá national park (Parque Nacional Laguna Lachuá) and its area of influence. Although the zone is well-preserved ecologically, with wood forests typical of the region, it has suffered socially from the armed conflict of 36 years in Guatemala, which ended with the signature of the peace accords in 1996. In 2006, the eco-region of Lachuá was recognized by the Ramsar Convention as a wetland of global importance. The region is part of a belt of true rainforest, with high and moderate perennial forests.
Although this area represents only a fragment of the original forest, it is nonetheless home to approximately one fifth of all the species of forest mammalians of Guatemala, notably including the jaguar (Panthera onca), the tapir (Tapirus bairdii), the howler monkey (Alouatta pigra) and 35 species of fishes in its system of waterways, formed by rivers and the Lachúa lagoon, which are part of the grand basin of the Usumacinta River, one of the regions of greatest precipitation and ichthyological endemism in all of Central America.
In the zone of influence of the Model Forest there are some 15,500 inhabitants in 55 communities, the majority of whom belong to the Q’eqchi ethnic group. The Q’eqchi’s vision of the cosmos is expressed various forms, including an oral tradition (sayings, tales, myths, etc.), ritual ceremonies, prayers and offerings. The life of the Q’eqchi’s is based primarily on their agricultural activities, in which they are guided by observation of the moon, rituals such as Watesink (offering of food) and Mayejak (offering of sacrifices), fasting and the interpretation of signs. For the Q’eqchi, the world includes a material component and a spiritual component, and this is why they conduct these activities.
In the area of influence of the Model Forest there also currently are six community-based producers’ associations, with their respective managers and technical personnel.
Why a Model Forest?
In the LMF there are seven areas intended for protection and conservation, which are hoped to be used to develop an alliance geared toward research and environmental education, which will enable us to contribute to the conservation of [the forest], and in turn to build awareness of protecting the forest and the sustainable use of natural resources.
- Fundación Laguna Lachuá, FUNDALACHUÁ
- Parque Nacional Laguna Lachuá
- Ministerio de Agricultura, Ganadería y Alimentación, MAGA
- Instituto Nacional de Bosques, INAB
- Consejo Nacional de Áreas Protegidas, CONAP
- Municipalidad de Coban A.V., y Alcaldías Regionales: Salacuim and Santa Lucía
- Producers’ organizations
- Cocodes [community councils for development] – first and second-tier
- Like-minded regional NGOs working in conservation and/or sustainable development
- Entrepreneurial groups active in the ecoregion
- Women’s groups organized for entrepreneurial purposes
- Schools, universities and research and training centres
- Private landholders
- Private businesses (Palmas del Ixcán S.A., Petrolera Quetzal Energy, etc.)
- Owners of community forest reserves
The LMF Action Plan sets as a general objective to contribute to the sustainable development and governance of the Lachuá ecoregion, promoting the participation of the local populations, local authorities, and public and private organizations for managing the conservation and administration of the protected natural resources in the zone, and for generating opportunities for developing the goods and services of the ecoregion.