Maya Community Forestry Enterprise Gives Back to the Community: SATIIM’s technical assistance in business and conservation training pays off
Sunday, December 26th, 2021
Santa came early this year to a Q’eqchi Maya village in Toledo District when its community forestry enterprise gave holiday food baskets to every household. Rax Mu Qiche, a sustainable forestry business run by and for Conejo, a buffer community of the Sarstoon Temash National Park, shared the wealth from a successful business cycle this week. Unlike other forestry businesses, Conejo’s model combines Maya customary values and traditional natural resource management with sound business practices. – And this year it paid off.
Rax Mu Qiche has been working with the Sarstoon Temash Institute for Indigenous Management to build its capacity to serve as a model of Indigenous community forestry for years. “Rax Mu Qiche demonstrates that Indigenous villages that manage the last intact forests of Toledo District can turn a profit and still keep their community values,” said SATIIM Executive Director Maya Ch’oc.
“This is what it means to have a community business – everyone profits, not just a few,” she added. Widespread illegal logging, unstandardized logging practices and poverty are the main drivers of deforestation in Toledo. Rax Mu Qiche is the exception, practicing data-based forest management and providing incomes for different skills among the communities, from bookkeeping to security to logging to taking the forest inventory. This year a UN review of 250 studies demonstrated the effectiveness of Indigenous forest management to reduce deforestation– when given alternative opportunities to feed their families. The report, “Forest Governance by Indigenous and Tribal Peoples,” recommended compensating Indigenous communities for their environmental services. Rax Mu Qiche received
the highest ranking (3/3) of the Protected Areas and Link Communities IUCN and ICCA Assessment Scores.
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