Forest Landscape Restoration project in the sub-basins of the Xayá and Pixcayá rivers concludes, having successfully contributed to watershed management and local livelihoods

Through the project, 150 families have benefited directly, with indirect benefits to 500 families (3000 people).


Xaya Pixcaya

Guatemala City, August 2017. The sub-basins of the Xayá and Pixcayá rivers are essential in Guatemala City, contributing up to 50% of the daily volume of water of superficial origin that is consumed, amounting to more than 85 million liters of water per day. Water resources increasingly show high pollution and a reduction of flows, which represents a potential danger for the water supply of the local communities and for the inhabitants of the country´s capital city.

"Some of the causes have been forest fires, deforestation, the advance of the agricultural frontier, lack of basic environmental sanitation, poor agricultural practices, lack of policies and regulations, among other things. As a result, The International Union for Conservation of Nature implemented the project "Consolidation of Nature-Based Solutions for Urban Problems: Promotion of Forest Landscape Restoration in the Xayá and Pixcayá River Subbasins for Community Adaptation to Climate Change " from September 2016 to August 2017, following an initial one year phase" said Carlos Rosal, technical officer of IUCN, in charge of coordinating the project.

The Minister of Environment and Natural Resources of Guatemala, Mr. Sidney Alexander, during his visit to the project area commented: "The Ministry of Environment and Natural resources is part of the Xayá-Pixcayá Environmental Alliance and therefore acknowledges that both sub-basins are of great strategic importance as the main source of surface water for Guatemala City, and for this reason it is required that more and more institutions, municipalities and the private sector join forces to contribute to the forest restoration of the same way to maintain water supply for future generations "

Through the project, 150 families have been directly benefited, with 500 families (3000 people) indirectly benefited.  The key achievements of the project include:

  • A massive reforestation campaign called "Harvesting Water for the Future" where more than 500,000 trees were planted in both sub-basins with project and private sector support.

  • The creation of the Environmental Alliance for the forest restoration of the sub-basins of the Xayá-Pixcayá rivers, in which 36 governmental, nongovernmental organizations, foundations, universities, municipalities, youth associations, professional groups and the private sector maintain close inter-agency and multisectoral coordination to facilitate local governance and restoration processes in water recharge areas.

  • The creation of an environmental policy and ordinances to support the “Kaqchikel Commonwealth” as an instrument help guide environmental management and the integral and sustainable use of natural resources in the sub-basins of Xayá and Pixcayá.

  • Four micro-watersheds committees created and strengthened with a gender approach and focused on the supporting forest restoration of both sub-basins.

  • A study to define water recharge zones to establish management and restoration measures for rain capture, infiltration and recharge of aquifers so that rivers and springs can provide improved water supply throughout the year.

  • The creation of entrepreneurial capacities in young men and women to promote socio-economic development in the area with an environmental focus.

  • Strong support to the communities and municipalities of the Kaqchikel Commonwealth with agricultural inputs, seeds and tools for the establishment of municipal forest nurseries to support forest restoration of the sub-basins of Xayá-Pixcayá.

  • The "Great Race for the Water of The Future" was also organized to create awareness among the general population about the need for efficient use of water and to highlight the need to restore the sub-basins of Xayá-Pixcayá.

  • The initiative was proposed to establish a scheme of voluntary payments for hydrological services, as a mechanism of sustainability and through which it is hoped to obtain contributions of the populations to restore and to conserve the areas of water recharge and thus contribute to the provision of water for human consumption mainly

  • Finally, the project´s most important achievement is the Bill initiative to create the Authority for the Integral and Sustainable Management of both sub-basins, an initiative that was presented to the Congress of the Republic of Guatemala, which has been assigned number 53-16 for discussion in plenary.

Angelina Chali Mux, a member of the Paya micro-watershed committee, said "Thanks to the project now we as women are part of the micro-watershed committees and of other activities where only men participated, which has been a great help for us."

The Xayá-Pixcayá Environmental Alliance will continue to work in the area to keep the efforts in forest restoration activities in both sub-basins going.  And with the creation of the technical-political group, the lobbying in the Congress of the Republic will continue in order to obtain the approval of the law initiative presented. Finally, it is hoped to that the initiative to create a voluntary mechanism for payments for hydrological services will be implemented, with the support offered by SIMBIOSIS Foundation (member of the Environmental Alliance) to provide sustainability to the forest restoration strategic actions in the sub-basins of the Xayá and Pixcayá rivers.

The project was implemented thanks to the support of the Knowfor2 initiative, which was funded by the British Cooperation Agency (DFID).


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