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Toledo forestry business gives back for Christmas

Posted: Wednesday, December 29, 2021. 11:44 am CST.

By Aaron Humes: Christmas has come and gone in the Q’eqchi Maya village of Conejo in Toledo District, but residents can look forward to much more, according to the Sarstoon Temash Institute for Indigenous Management (SATIIM).

Last week, Rax Mu Qiche, a sustainable forestry business run by and for Conejo, a buffer community of the Sarstoon Temash National Park, handed over holiday food baskets to every household in the village.

It has been working with SATIIM to build its capacity to serve as a model of Indigenous community forestry for years.

According to SATIIM executive director Maya Ch’oc, “Rax Mu Qiche demonstrates that Indigenous villages that manage the last intact forests of Toledo District can turn a profit and still keep their community values… This is what it means to have a community business – everyone profits, not just a few.”

Rax Mu Qiche practices data-based forest management and providing incomes for different skills among the communities, from bookkeeping to security to logging to taking the forest inventory. It was ranked highest on the Protected Areas and Link Communities IUCN and ICCA Assessment Scores, a United Nations review of 250 studies demonstrating the effectiveness of Indigenous forest management to reduce deforestation– when given alternative opportunities to feed their families.

The report, “Forest Governance by Indigenous and Tribal Peoples,” recommended compensating Indigenous communities for their environmental services.


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