Carmen works to protect the mangrove ecosystem in Guatemala.
This community is located on the Pacific coast of Guatemala which is one of the most important agricultural areas in the country. Here, large-scale production of bananas, oil palm, and sugarcane flourishes.
However, the lack of natural resources governance, historical deforestation and the inefficient use of water by upstream and downstream stakeholders threaten the water supply, the mangrove ecosystem, soil quality, and the local livelihoods in the landscape.
A community leader
Solidaridad and its partners have worked with stakeholders in the 31 de Julio community, which is located within a mangrove landscape, through the LandScale pilot. In May 2021, the LandScale consortium launched a campaign called “Sembrando Huella”, promoted by the National Forest Institute (INAB) in Guatemala. Carmen is one of the community stakeholders, and she actively participates in mangrove restoration and many other activities.
Mangroves have the capacity to absorb up to four times more carbon dioxide per area than upland terrestrial forests. The remarkable traits of the mangrove ecosystem translate into a wide variety of goods and services that we benefit from.
Carmen is a leader working to promote conservation practices in the landscape. She is the president of her community’s environment and reforestation committee and says the biggest challenge has been raising awareness and changing behaviors around single-use plastics for community members and visitors. The community would like to stop single-use plastic entirely and has been encouraging people not to leave behind any trash or waste when visiting the mangroves.
The challenge is great, however, Carmen points out that the community has come together to face it; it is exciting to learn of the great impacts that have been achieved through the mangrove restoration initiative. The community is filled with satisfaction when they highlight their progress and efforts to visitors and other stakeholders on this topic.
Her neighbors say they are grateful for Carmen’s work in the community. “Not many of us are willing to dedicate so much time working on the landscape and supporting our community asCarmen does,” said Sandra López, a community member. “In the mangrove restoration project, Carmen’s enthusiasm motivates others in the community to work. She is the reason we have been able to work with Solidaridad and the other organizations.”
An advocate for the inclusion of women and youth
For Carmen, it’s important to include all the people in the landscape, if they are involved, they can appreciate the work done. She is an advocate for the inclusion of youth, children and women in conservation efforts. She believes that if young people and children are left out of conservation efforts, then they won’t be aware of the damage they can cause through their actions.
Also, we need to include women and motivate them, so that they gain self-confidence, says Carmen. She uses a short speech and a pep talk that helps her encourage women in her community to participate in landscaping efforts when they are reluctant to get involved.