Strengthening Indigenous Stewardship of Community Conserved Areas in Aguacate
Strengthening Indigenous Stewardship of Community Conserved Areas in Aguacate
This project seeks to build on and strengthen the activities that ACDC already commenced. Aguacate leaders have declared three (3) indigenous community conservation area within its communal land which is the first of its kind in the Toledo district and will positively impact the lives of the villagers in the area of securing biodiversity resources, fostering alternative livelihood opportunities and sustainable management of biodiversity in order to adapt to the effect of climate change. The project will also serve as a role model to other local and indigenous communities that are seeking to safeguard biodiversity while improving the lives of villagers through sustainable nature-based solutions.

The goal of the project is to strengthen indigenous stewardship of community conserved areas in Aguacate as a key strategy to safeguard indigenous livelihoods and adaptation to the effects of climate change.

This bio-diverse environment is fostered with a tropical broad leaf forest within the upper reaches of the Upper Moho River watershed- a prioritized geographic landscape of the GEF Small Grants Programme in its Operational Phase 6. There are numerous species of plants and wildlife along with caves and waterfalls that is ideal for ecotourism. Residents of Aguacate aim to promote and protect the natural environment in and around Aguacate through community based tourism attractions, and the sustainable use of the flora and fauna. This will reduce cutting and burning of land for subsistence farming and create new income generating opportunities while at the same time preparing for the negative effects of climate change. This project will allow for a mapping of of three square kilometers for the identification of the flora (medicinal) and fauna, caves, waterfalls and archaeological sites that are within the Community Conserved Areas. Trails will be created for visitors as well as villagers to easily access the area to learn and appreciate the importance of the environment and our cultural heritage. This will encourage community members to take ownership of what they have and at the same time seek alternative ways to ensure sustainability of the ICCAs.
 
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Project Snapshot

Grantee:
Aguacate Conservation and Development Committee
Country:
Belize
Area Of Work:
Biodiversity
CapDev
Grant Amount:
US$ 25,000.00
Co-Financing Cash:
US$ 6,200.00
Co-Financing in-Kind:
US$ 24,360.00
Project Number:
BZE/SGP/OP6/Y3/ICCA-GS/BD/2018/03
Status:
Satisfactorily Completed
Project Characteristics and Results
Promoting Public Awareness of Global Environment
Consultation will be carried out within the community (men, women and youth) to educate the community on the importance and proper management of ICCAs in order to get full participation within the community especially in the sustainable use of the biodiversity. Outreach visits will be carried out to active conservation groups such Ya’axche, Rio Blanco Mayan Association and Ak’ Tenamit to gain knowledge in sustainable use of biodiversity. The impact and success of the Aguacate pilot community conservation area will encourage other communities to begin to conserve other areas within the Moho River watershed. Farmers are beginning to see the impact of climate change in our area hence the need for alternative source of income using biodiversity in a sustainable way. ACDC will document the activities, experiences and lessons of this project to share with other villages in our area. Already San Benito Poite have met with leaders of ACDC to begin the process of doing joint ventures in the conservation of our forest.
Project sustainability
Indigenous and community conservation is acknowledged internationally as the oldest form of environmental management, but one that has had limited official recognition. There is now growing awareness that communities may have long-term collective strategies of common property management and conservation and sustainable use of landscapes and resources that predispose them to declare ICCAs. The community participates in the formulation of rules that regulate resource use and in the monitoring of resource conditions. There is transparency in resource management decision making and spaces exist for discussing and resolving problems. The community has strong past experience and knowledge. This approach meets many of the criteria considered important for resource conservation: communities elect local officials, self-evaluate their actions, network with each other and have appropriate management to regulate natural resource use. Although insufficiently studied, the traditional and current management of community landscapes and natural resources achieves conservation in a diversity of ways. Local ecological beliefs, knowledge and practices, which have ancient roots, have shown great resilience during important historical periods of pre-Hispanic domination, colonization, independence and now, globalization. Many community conserved areas are recognized as sites that were already in existence in the pre-Hispanic era, or that developed under colonial or governmental authority sometime over the last five centuries. These historical perspectives provide insights into why local communities may resist outside conservation initiatives that impose management restrictions that are seen as illegitimate. In indigenous communities, a long-standing common practice is to maintain a part of their territory as a forested area with minimal human impact. These sites are considered as reserves for the future, places to find medicinal plants, seeds and other non-timber forest products. There are many examples of traditional territorial division that include protection zones, which often lack official recognition. There are also many ancient sites with ritual importance recognized by community members, although only a few of them are documented. Explicit recognition of these indigenous modes of conservation is a more recent process that emerged over the last few decades and has grown rapidly since the turn of the twenty-first century. Thus, collective environmental management is fundamental and community conservation is the foundation for a diversity of initiatives. The three locations for the proposed community conservation areas have seen some development and will be marketed as tourist attractions. Small community enterprises have benefitted significantly, for example the craft group, since they have identified a market for their products utilizing local natural resources readily available within the Aguacate boundaries. The licensed and future tour guides, can also testify that they have benefitted greatly from the project. They should be the ones who should be leading by example to be stewards of the environment, especially the natural and cultural resources available. The project’s success has encouraged the community to support the conservation efforts, since community members have seen the positive impact it has started to instill in their lives and the environment. The participatory approach of the project has also instilled the feeling of involvement and ownership of outputs and outcomes, thus ensuring sustainability and continued benefits. Whatever misunderstanding there is between the village leaders and ACDC leaders should be discussed and ironed out so that everyone can continue to reap the benefits of their partnership. The pilot interventions carried out by the project were community driven with the participation of the community. This will ensure ownership and sustainability
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Grantee Contact

Mr. Louis Cucul
Phone: 633-9954
 

Address

Aguacate Village
TOLEDO DISTRICT ,

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