GROWING NATURAL LEADERS - EcoLogic Development model of community-based, collaborative conservation

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  • GROWING NATURAL LEADERS EcoLogic Development Fund • Annual Report 2013–2014

  • EcoLogic Development Fund’s mission is to empower rural and indigenous people to restore and protect tropical

    ecosystems in Central America and Mexico.

    A boat docked on the Sarstún River, which forms part of the border between Guatemala and Belize. EcoLogic works with artisanal fisherfolk on both sides of the border to facilitate cross-border cooperation for conservation. © Lee Shane

    EcoLogic currently has nine active projects in five countries: two projects in Mexico, three in

    Guatemala, two in Honduras, one in Panama, and one

    cross-border project that brings together communities

    in Belize and Guatemala.


    Dear Friends and Supporters,

    When I write about EcoLogic’s work, I often focus on the big picture: we work in Mexico and Central America because the region holds tremendous biological diversity, yet its rural communities are vulnerable and underserved. But at its core, our work is about individuals: extraordinary people who effect change from the ground up, working tirelessly to make our shared goal of large-scale, landscape-level conservation a reality. Nature and people depend on each other—not only to survive, but to thrive.

    Our work is urgent. As the pressure on our planet increases and we grapple with climate change, EcoLogic’s model of community-based, collaborative conservation becomes even more critical.

    Since 1993, EcoLogic has worked in more than 600 communities, inspiring and training local leaders who bring our vision forward.

    In this annual report, we proudly honor three shining examples of local leadership: Bestalina Martínez, whose work empowers communities across Atlántida, Honduras, to turn environmental protection into economic opportunity; Nolverto Troches, a devoted grandfather in San Juan, Guatemala, who is piloting conservation solutions for the sake of future generations; and Isabela Alonzo Martín, a young Maya Chuj advocate for both the environment and indigenous women’s rights in San Mateo Ixtatán, Guatemala.

    Thanks to your support, Nolverto started an agroforestry plot in his backyard. Bestalina implemented an innovative recycling program that is protecting our planet while helping rural communities. Isabela has connected dozens of women with the opportunity to have a meaningful role in their community by protecting the forest. They have the vision, drive, and inspiration to lead their communities in protecting the ecosystems upon which we all depend.

    What EcoLogic does best is to give local people what they need to achieve their dreams of a brighter, more just, and more sustainable future for their communities—and we couldn’t do this without you.

    Thank you,

    Barbara Vallarino Executive Director

    Bestalina Martínez (left), with EcoLogic’s Executive Director Barbara Vallarino, accepts the EcoLogic Innovation Award at our 2014 annual benefit.

    Growing Natural Leaders • Annual Report 2013–2014 3


    G U AT E M A L A

    Piloting Better Fuel-Efficient Stoves Fuel-efficient stoves are an important part of EcoLogic’s menu of community-based approaches to conservation and sustainable development. Over the past few years, we have worked on expanding and improving our stove program. In July 2013, a group of EcoLogic regional staff attended the Global Alliance for Clean Cookstoves’ stakeholder consultation in Antigua, Guatemala. Based on information from the workshop and research conducted by several interns, we piloted a new, more fuel-efficient model of stove in Guatemala. The model was selected for its durability, likelihood of cultural accep- tance, indoor air-pollution and fuel-efficiency ratings, safety, and cost, among other factors. In August, we installed 25 test stoves with our partner, the 48 Cantones of Totonicapán, and provided training and guidance to community members on how to use and maintain the stoves. As we expand our stove pro- gram, we are developing tools to evaluate which stove models best fit the cultural and environmental needs of the communities we serve.

    4 EcoLogic Development Fund • Annual Report 2013–2014

    Ana Mateo Francisco with her new fuel-efficient stove in Huehuetenango, Guatemala © Dan Grossman

  • EcoLogic’s Expanding Agroforestry Work Connects Farmers to National Incentives Program EcoLogic boasts more than 10 years’ experience using agroforestry, a technique of planting trees alongside crops to preserve biodiversity and enrich soil, as an alternative method to environmentally destructive slash-and-burn farming in Guatemala. In 2013, we focused on strategically expanding and scaling up our agroforestry work to reach more farmers. We are proud that EcoLogic’s agroforestry work in Ixcán, Guatemala, has helped communities leverage additional support through the national Program of Incentives to Small Landowners with Agroforestry or Forest Vocations (PINPEP in Spanish), which compensates farmers in cash for sustainably managing their land. By the end of 2013, EcoLogic helped farmers in Ixcán earn $106,300 for the reforestation of 112 acres of degraded land, $26,055 for implementing 55 acres of agroforestry, and $10,247 for the protection of forest resources. These funds have directly benefitted 174 families!

    H O N D U R A S

    EcoLogic Chosen as Solution Search Award Finalist for Watershed Work EcoLogic was chosen as one of the top 10 finalists for the Solution Search: Adapting to a Changing Climate contest, sponsored by the Nature Conservancy and Rare! We were nominated for our work in watershed management through our Communities Organizing for Watersheds project with our partner, the Association of Water Councils in the Southern Sector of Pico Bonito National Park (AJAASSPIB in Spanish). The International Solution Search Award recognizes innovative conservation successes for communities where the need is greatest. The contest received 85 entries from 37 countries around the world. EcoLogic is proud to have made it to the top 10!

    Rewarding Community-Led Innovation In November 2013, EcoLogic held a competition among our partner organizations to encourage the development of innovative solutions to the issues we tackle together: natural resource conservation and improving the livelihoods of local populations. A panel of four expert judges selected our Honduran partner, the Alliance of Municipalities of Central Atlántida (MAMUCA), as the recipient of the very first EcoLogic Innovation Award, a $10,000 prize generously provided in part by the Kendeda Fund. The cash award is being used to help MAMUCA develop a business plan for and expand a program of local community stores where people can use recyclable materials, such as aluminum cans and plastic bags, to “purchase” food and other household items. This economically and environmentally sustainable project is reducing solid waste in the forests and waterways around Pico Bonito National Park while providing a valuable new source of income for local community members who participate. MAMUCA currently operates two stores in two communities and hopes to build more in the future!

    Growing Natural Leaders • Annual Report 2013–2014 5

  • 6 EcoLogic Development Fund • Annual Report 2013–2014

    (Left to right) Field technician Severiana Domínguez González (second from left), Regional Director of Programs Gabriela González García, Executive Director Barbara Vallarino, and Senior Program Officer for Institutional Development Margaret Doherty-Lopez (directly behind Gabriela) joined the FARCO team in November 2013 for the launch of EcoLogic’s new project in the Chinantla region of Oaxaca, Mexico.

    M E X I C O

    Building an Exciting New Partnership in Oaxaca EcoLogic is excited to be developing a second project in Mexico with our newest partner, Fondo Ambiental Regional de la Chinantla (FARCO) in the Chinantla region of Oaxaca. FARCO is a com- munity-based organization that coordinates cooperation among civil society, academia, and the government to advance the region’s social and environmental development. The goals of this new project are to reforest degraded sections of forest in the Papaloapan River basin to create a 20,000- acre community reserve; to build the capacity of local communities to conserve and live sustainably through environmental education and technical training; and to introduce sustainable sources of income for communities to reduce poverty while protecting the environment. We have begun training and capacity-building workshops and are working on a plan to incentivize rural and indigenous com- munities to reforest degraded areas within the Papaloapan River watershed. We are confident that by working together with FARCO on this new project, we will make significant progress toward conserv- ing approximately 30,000 acres of critical forest habitat in the Chinantla region.

    New Funding Moves CarbonPlus Project Forward in Chiapas In 2012, EcoLogic launched a REDD+ (Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation) project in the Lacandón Jungle region of the Cojolita mountain range of Chiapas, Mexico. The ultimate goal—with EcoLogic’s support and technical guidance—is for local Mayan communities to be compen- sated for their efforts to conserve the rainforest by gaining access to carbon markets. In 2013, EcoLogic was awarded a grant from the US Fish and Wildlife Service, which allowe