Strengthening the Implementation and Management of a Community Agroforestry Concession in Maya Mountain North Forest Reserve, Belize
Strengthening the Implementation and Management of a Community Agroforestry Concession in Maya Mountain North Forest Reserve, Belize
The purpose of this project is to improve management of the community agroforestry concession through institutional strengthening of TFCGA, execution of a case study evaluating the success of the concession and the provision of necessary equipment and infrastructure for easier access to the concession and proper plot maintenance. This project will contribute to the successful and controlled implementation of the community agroforestry concession in the forest reserve with consideration for biodiversity conservation and ecosystem functions. The activities will also support 30 farmers and approximately 275 of their family members in becoming better decision makers to properly manage their resources, as well as increasing their resilience to climate change by building their capacity in climate smart agriculture practices. Specific activities include: (1) Increased capacity of at least 30 farmers in climate smart organic agriculture, institutional governance, and administrative skills, (2) Completion of a case study on the implementation of the community agroforestry concession in MMNFR to explore successes and provide recommendations for continued implementation of the concession and possible replication in other forest reserves in Belize and (3) Improved implementation of climate smart agriculture practices in the community agroforestry concession by TFCGA. This project will empower the TFCGA farmers and build their capacity to be stewards of their resources and the agroforestry concession. Lessons learnt from the implementation of the agroforestry concession can have a national impact influencing the development of a national agroforestry policy while the concession serves as a model that can be replicated to conserve other forest reserves in Belize while providing communities with sustainable livelihoods. The cacao agroforestry being implemented by the TFCGA within the concession has a steady market once it becomes productive and great interest is already being shown by national cacao bean buyers and exporters such as Maya Mountain Cacao. This agroforestry concession contributes socio - economic benefits to farmers, their families and community while providing environmental protection to one of Belize's most vital protected area. It has evolved from the pioneering efforts of stakeholders from various levels (Ya'axche, TFCGA and the Forest Department) and will contribute to establishing micro-level economies of scale through production and sale of products.
 
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Project Snapshot

Grantee:
Ya'axche Conservation Trust
Country:
Belize
Area Of Work:
Land Degradation
Grant Amount:
US$ 25,000.00
Co-Financing Cash:
US$ 34,125.00
Co-Financing in-Kind:
US$ 10,000.00
Project Number:
BZE/SGP/OP6/Y3/ICCA-GS/LD/2017/12
Status:
Satisfactorily Completed
Project Characteristics and Results
Emphasis on Sustainable Livelihoods
? Environmental (ecological) The MMNFR was highlighted as one of the most threatened reserves in Belize and has been prioritized under the Global Environment Facility – World Bank ‘Key Biodiversity Areas’ project for increased management effectiveness and protection. The implementation of the agroforestry concession is guided by the Agroforestry Concession Management Plan for MMNFR 2014 - 2019 with two more plans to be developed over the 15-year concession permit. The concession is being managed to bring sustainable economic development to rural farmers of the TFCGA, in a manner which reduces current threats to biodiversity and habitat loss and maintains water catchment and flood regulation functions within and outside the forest reserve. The presence of the concession and the increased attention that results from its presence will continue to help tackle the high rates of illegal resource extraction, forest degradation and deforestation that occurs within the MMNFR. Ya'axché has put systems in place that improve enforcement efforts within the reserve and contribute to protected area management effectiveness. This concession is a long-term venture which has short-term (fruits, annual crops), mid-term (cacao), and long-term (timber) benefits for the farmers. The agroforestry system functions in a similar way to the functions and processes of a natural system and maintains higher levels of biodiversity than conventional agricultural systems. The incorporation of tree species within this model contributes to landscape connectivity and provides habitat for biodiversity, which facilitates the movement of animal species. ? Social (empowerment) The community agroforestry concession is an opportunity for Ya’axché to focus on a more holistic landscape level plan, contributing to the organization’s goal of enhanced unity and mutual benefits between ecosystems and local communities. The concession will encourage TFCGA farmers to be more self-sufficient, more knowledgeable, and more effective stewards of their resources. Ya'axché provides long-term mentoring and advice to the farmers, but the TFCGA farmers are the implementers of the concession and are responsible for the success of their individual plots, empowering them to be successful on their own. Building the capacity of the leaders of the TFCGA will encourage them to become sound decision makers and engage in better management practices. Hosting other interested community groups to learn about the agroforestry concession model will ensure knowledge transfer and encourage other groups to adopt this model ensuring community participation in natural resource management. Results from the case study report will show the perspective of participating farmers, giving them the opportunity to demonstrate their successes and providing recommendations for the successful adoption of this model. ? Economic (community livelihood) Successful examples from Petén, Guatemala indicate that community based forest management can bring benefits to all stakeholders including: increased resource allocation efficiency, regulation compliance, communication and income generation. Cacao cultivation has gained attention in the last 5 years by local farmers for its economic benefit. Belizean farmers receive one of the highest prices for cacao in the world at US$0.55 per lb. for wet beans (US$1.50 per lb. fermented and dried) collected at the farm. This is approximately US $3,637.60 per Metric Ton. The TFCGA will be entering a strong market for their cacao once they become productive in 2017. The income from their cacao and annual crops will supplement their incomes and help them to provide necessities for their families. Being able to produce high quality organic produce will add more value to their crops. The TFCGA will also utilize their income in re-investing in the concession to plant more cacao and will help their members become more self-sufficient and can support their families in the long term. Since the community agroforestry concession is unique in Belize, it could ultimately be considered an attraction profiting from tourism and as a demonstration model as it becomes more successful.
Inovative Financial Mechanisms
Information on the progress of activities will be collected throughout the project in the form of written reports, training assessment reports, photographs and video. Collected information will be used for monitoring and evaluation of the project as well as in public awareness efforts within communities and in the media to promote Ya'axché's conservation and outreach work. Internally, all information will be readily accessible for all staff and will be used in future project development. The results from this project will also be shared to our partner organization Fauna & Flora International, as well as other local, national and regional partners. Ya’axché will share the information with relevant government agencies such as the Forest Department which can influence them to promote the concession model providing community groups with controlled access to other forest reserves in the country and discourage de-reservation of protected areas. Information from the case study will provide insights into the success of the agroforestry concession and will provide recommendation on how this model can be replicated in other forest reserves. The completed case study and list of recommendations will be presented to relevant stakeholders such as TFCGA members, personnel from the Department of Agriculture and the Forest Department. Additionally, monthly meetings are held between Ya'axché, TFCGA members and representatives from the Forest Department to discuss the workplan of the concession, share concerns and resolve any issues that have been brought up. This partnership encourages all partners to share their experiences and ensures the proper dissemination of information.
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Partnership

GEF CORE

Grantee Contact

Ms. Christina Garcia
Phone: 501-722-0108
Email: christina.garcia@yaaxche.org
 

Address

P.O. BOX 177, #20 A GEORGE PRICE STREET
Punta Gorda Town , Latin America & Caribbean , 00501

SGP Country office contact

Mr. Leonel Requena
Phone:
(501) 822-2462
Email:

Address

UNDP Belize,3rd Floor, Lawrence Nicholas Building Complex ,P.O. Box 53,South Ring Road,
Belmopan, Central America