Enter Title


Protecting Forest Ecosystems in Guatemala

Healthy forest ecosystems provide a wide range of services, including climate change mitigation and adaptation, clean water, and productive soil. Communities and businesses rely on these services for raw material inputs, production processes, and climate stability. International efforts to support the preservation of forest ecosystems are known as “REDD+”—which stands for reducing emissions from deforestation and forest degradation, plus promoting sustainable forest management and conservation and enhancement of forest carbon stocks.

The Mayan Biosphere Reserve in the Petén Department in northern Guatemala is the largest protected area in Mesoamerica, covering 2.1m hectares. Despite the progress of forest management initiatives in Petén, communities struggle to earn enough profits to be able to withstand mounting pressure to resort to land uses that lead to unplanned deforestation. Economic activities in the region include logging, raising cattle, and subsistence agriculture.

Between 2007 and 2013, the MIF partnered with the Rainforest Alliance to implement GuateCarbon, a pioneering pilot effort to mitigate emissions of CO2 in a 717,000-hectare area in the Mayan Biosphere Reserve. The project sought to reduce deforestation while creating a new source of revenue for communities to use to invest in conservation and meet basic social needs. GuateCarbon aims to reduce CO2 emissions from unplanned deforestation by approximately 57 million tons over a 30-year period.

The project uses an innovative Payment for Ecosystem Services (PES) model, and developed one of the world’s first public-private partnerships for climate change mitigation in natural forests. It involved government entities ACOFOP, the National Competitiveness Program (PRONACOM) and two local private concessions (GIBOR S.A.and Baren Comercial), as well as concessionary communities.

GuateCarbon also established a synergy with private entrepreneurs, who provided not only financial leverage, but also the knowledge and management required to commercialize forest products and integrate them into value chains to increase the beneficiaries’ incomes.

Positive results include:

  • The project has prevented the emission of some 2 million tons of CO2 over the last 3 years (currently being verified).
  • Based on this project, Guatemala presented its Readiness Preparation Proposals, which received a grant of US$3.8 million from the Forest Carbon Partnership Facility to develop a national REDD+ strategy.
  • This experience sets a positive precedent for the expansion of REDD+projects in Guatemalan forests at a national level.
  • 1,300 jobs were created through concessionary activities.
  • Generation of 5,000 temporary or seasonal forest operations jobs.
  • The annual budget for the project increased from an initial budget of US$ 400,000 to approximately US$ 1,000,000
  • The project has attracted alternative financing sources from other national and international organizations. Leverage provided by private, public, national and international organizations, such as USAID, forestry companies, Gibor and Baren (private concessionaries) and AGEXPORT (Guatemalan Association of Exporters) allowed the project’s continuity.
  • Other countries in Latin America and the Caribbean have expressed interest in adopting this model. 



Mayan Biosphere Reserve Environmental Services Program – GuateCarbon 
Location: Guatemala
Program Funding: US$ 400,000

More Information  


Rainforest Alliance