The Four Initiatives
1. SUSTAINABLE COMMUNITY DEVELOPMENT
Reforestation & Agroforestry: The Macadamia Tree
Native to Australia, macadamia (Macadamia tetraphylla) is ideal for fighting the deforestation that is ravaging the Guatemalan Highlands. It thrives in Guatemala and produces a prized, edible nut that is valuable and highly-nutritious. Our Macadamia-Conservation Exchange (MCE) program is helping establish a new economic system that will provide lasting income and environmental benefits. The macadamia trees can live 150 years and sequester massive amounts of carbon.
How the MCE works
With communities and land owners, we select a plot of lower-elevation (already cleared) land for our new plantation. Then, and here's the clincher, we select a plot of agricultural land high in the cloud forest zone as an ecological restoration site. In return for macadamia seedlings and materials for the plantation, the land owner permanently abandons the high-elevation field so that it may grow again into a valuable cloud forest, providing habitat to wildlife, and playing its critical roles in hydrology and carbon sequestration.
2. ECO-CULTURAL TOURS
The Cloud Forest Conservation Initiative collaborates with Inchanted Journeys to bring you the Mayan Highlands of Guatemala! We offer this unique tour to fill your eyes with beautiful scenery and indulge in new inter-cultural experiences among local villagers. You will use all your senses to absorb the cloud forest wilderness experience. This is a rigorous trip that includes Lake Atitlan's incredible vistats as well as the remote Mayan Highlands of Quiché Department. The cloud forest itself is filled with towering, fern-covered oaks, resplendent quetzals, and endangered howler monkeys. You can get a "National Geographic Experience" without paying NatGeo prices!
3. BIODIVERSITY RESEARCH
The Wildlife of Cerro El Amay
The stunning biodiversity of Cerro El Amay includes a broad range of wildlife species that we encounter regularly when we conduct our wildlife surveys. Among them, we regularly see Resplendent Quetzals (Pharomacrus mocinno), the national symbol of Guatemala.
Cerro El Amay was designated by Birdlife International as an Important Bird Area GT-06 (download PDF 1Mb) because it is home to several endemics that occur in no other ecosystem. These include the Pink-headed Warbler (Ergaticus versicolor), Black-throated Jay (Cyanolyca pumilo), and Highland Guan (Penelopina nigra), among many others. We conducted extensive surveys for birds at Cerro El Amay and greatly expanded our knowledge of the birds of Guatemala. The results are published here... (PDF file 520kb)
Mammal species include the endangered black howler monkey (Alouatta pigra), spider monkey (Ateles geoffroyi), Margay (Leopardus wiedii), mountain lion (Felis concolor), American brocket deer (Mazama americana), kinkajou (Potos flavus), coati (Nasua narica), ring-tail (Bassariscus sumichrasti), collared peccary (Tayasu tajacu).
In addition to birds and mammals, the virgin forest of Cerro El Amay is one of the last habitats for the critically-endangered Guatemalan spike-thumb frog (Plectrohyla guatemalensis). We are afraid this species may go extinct if we do not protect this forest. Several members of the Plectrohyla genus are already presumed extinct in Mesoamerica because of their strict link to disappearing old growth forest.
4. LAND ACQUISITION FOR CONSERVATION
You can buy your own virgin cloud forest
Old timers are selling their virgin forest land to loggers and speculators now! We want to buy as much of this land as possible. We can facilitate your purchase, or you can give us a tax-deductible donation so we can buy tracts of this virgin forest at a fraction of US real estate prices. Contact us if you want to help!
Forestry Incentives Yield Lasting Benefits
Each land right, called a derecho, consists of 111 acres of land that can be registered with the national forestry agency (INAB). Under the Probosque conservation incentives program, a cash payment is made annually to the owner who conserves the old growth forest. Therefore, all donations have a double benefit--protecting the land and a cash payment, can be invested in additional land purchases.