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Rio Dulce National Park

© Ceres Wan Kam


Conservation benefit: Enforcement of restrictions around islands; environmental education and manatee pride campaign

Community benefit: Renovation of visitors’ center, new signs spelling out regulations in protected areas

Date Approved: 06.2021


This project supports a local conservation-based tourism initiative.


This project protects mangroves, which trap more CO2 than any other kind of forest and as a result, slow global warming.

The Chocón Machacas Biotope protects coastal wetlands, where endangered West Indian manatees spend their days in the warm water, nibbling on seagrass and mangrove leaves. This area and the Rio Dulce National Park are part of a network of protected areas. They include the largest remaining mangrove forest in Caribbean Guatemala. The wetlands provide vital habitat for birds migrating along the Atlantic Flyway.

Many human activities are damaging the areas, including illegal hunting, destructive fishing, mangrove cutting, erosion from illegal development, poor practices by the tourist industry, and stone and sand removal. The government allocates little money to combat them.

This project will beef up protection with weekly patrols around four small islands in the protected areas. Our nonprofit partner, FUNDAECO, will use its boats to deter and report illegal activity. They will also put up signs at the islands, spelling out the rules against environmentally harmful activities.

The other key part of this project is outreach to local communities. An environmental pride campaign targets parents, community councils, women’s organizations, and fishers. Refurbishing the visitors’ center, near Cayo Cecon, will support ecotourism and bring sustainable income to local residents.

Students in two communities, Crique Jute and La Angostura, are receiving environmental education. About 250 boys and girls, from first to sixth grade, will take part. The programs focus on the endangered manatees and the seagrass and mangrove habitats they need to survive. Our project partner will develop materials specifically for the children here.

Project Updates

June 2022

Our project partner, FUNDAECO, presented a surveillance plan to the government entities that will be carrying out twice-monthly patrols to enforce environmental rules around the islands. FUNDAECO also delivered 85 environmental education kits to students at schools in the two communities. The goal is to distribute 250 kits, which contain information on the area’s important ecosystems, especially mangrove forests. The Crique Jute community has arranged to put four informative buoys to regulate fishing in the water in front of the community, and to place signs on its dock. The La Angostura community will add signs about resource conservation to its dock and will improve the road to the dock, all with volunteer labor. Organizers are planning a week of activities for the environmental pride campaign, called Mangroves: Anchors of Life, in July.

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February 2022

Our field rep in Guatemala, Marcos Terete, visited the project site and met with project partners in October. Marcos reports that the local people are very happy to participate and look forward to the benefits of the project.

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