by Zachary Towne-Smith
Totonicapan Community Forest Management Board
Challenge: In Guatemala there are very few thriving old-growth forests remaining. The vast network of protected areas are underfunded and under threat from poachers and illegal woodcutters, not to mention resettled refugee communities seeking cropland and firewood. In Totonicapan department the forests are maintained as they have been for hundreds of years by local committees. These committees face ever increasing challenges as they work to ensure the continued protection of their forests, yet they lack strategic planning skills and often have little confidence in their creative abilities.
Methodology: Through traditional ceremony in the forest we honored the place as well as the spirits and people who guard it. This was followed by participative games and in-depth reflections. participants were able to question.
Results: The group used creative problem solving strategies to develop a plan to manage the forest. They were able to distribute responsibilities and implement ideas that allowed them to adhere to national forest legislation while maintaining traditional practices. As a result they cleared blighted trees and renovated trails and other ecotourism infrastructure. Flowing from these successes, relationships among board members were refreshed, opening new possibilities for collective visioning and planning.
Forest Management Board