Guatemala is an extremely biodiverse country, with one of the most extensive forest systems in Central America. Unfortunately, these forests are rapidly disappearing due in large part to population growth, firewood collection, and land clearing for agriculture. Several years ago, the women of the Association identified deforestation as a problem that is directly affecting their communities. They are having trouble finding wood for cooking and building, and are reporting an increase in erosion, causing flooding and landslides that destroy homes, roads, and bridges.

In response, the Board of the Association began a strategic reforestation effort in 2017. Since then, the Association has planted at least 10,000 tree saplings every year in their communities. Several members have even started their own tree nurseries as a way to earn income for their families. The women receive ongoing training from Carlos, the Association’s “on-call” agricultural expert, so they are able to make informed decisions about when, where, and which type of trees to plant. Trees are typically oak, cypress, and ilama (a species native to Central America). Carlos also teaches them how to quickly spot and treat pests and disease.

Trinity Presbyterian Church (Wilmington, Delaware) generously underwrites this project year after year. This congregation serves as a witness to environmental justice and stewardship of the earth, and we are grateful for their ongoing support.

Climate Change

Rural, indigenous Guatemalans are extremely vulnerable to the effects of climate change. Many in the Mam community depend on seasonable agricultural work to survive. In recent years, inconsistent rains and hail storms have made growing common crops of beans, corn, and potatoes less predictable and less profitable, resulting in increased poverty and hunger. This change in weather is also affecting the Association’s family vegetable garden project, with women reporting that either too much rain has washed their seeds away or too little rain has caused a poor yield. The Association recognizes that their reforestation project is a way they can do their part to combat climate change.

Explaining the wisdom of their ancestors about caring for the earth.