Forestry in Yucatán: Incorporation of biodiversity issues and development promotion | Global Environment Facility

Posted October 04, 2017

In Quintana Roo, on the Yucatan Peninsula, the community of Noh-Bec has more than 24,000 hectares of land, most of which is forested; it is a combination of land used for sustainable low-impact forestry, conservation and traditional agriculture.

At the conference of the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD-13) , the Executive Director of the Global Environment Facility (GEF), Naoko Ishii, and a Fund delegation visited Noh-Bec, the epicenter of an innovative GEF-funded World Bank project that helps to mainstream biodiversity issues and promote development.

The Noh-Bec community explained to the GEF delegation how it is managing its lands and forests so that they continue to be a livelihood for future generations and provide wide range of animals such as jaguars and tapirs.

The history of the project and the way the locals obtained these results was not easy.

In 2007, a hurricane from c Algorithm 5 struck the community of Noh-Bec: a single storm destroyed approximately 40% of the forests. Because the government-approved sustainable management plans and Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) certification ceased to be valid after such destruction, villagers lost the ability to legally harvest and export timber with FSC certification. Dry trees and fallen branches created the ideal conditions for forest fires during the dry season. After decades of work to properly manage their forests, the community felt depressed when it saw their hard work disappearing in a short time.

The GEF project provided technical assistance and resources to help the community rebuild and regain management of its forests. Even with this support, only in early 2016 they were able to receive FSC certification on their forests and their sawmill industry. Community members have measured and tagged maps of their forest plans and now take the GPS coordinates of each mahogany tree as part of their long-term forest management plan, as this species takes at least 75 years to grow from the seed stage to a size suitable for commercial logging. GEF support also helped to create a systematic animal and plant monitoring program to study the impact of different forest management systems on biodiversity. Jaguars, tapirs, deer and other animals that are not abundant in the area have been seen, but they are a sign of the richness of the ecosystem.

The community manages to guarantee the subsistence of its members through forestry and some traditional agricultural activities, beekeeping and a combination of other things, as a program of rural tourism that grows day by day. Many young people attend school and work in more developed tourist areas but return to live and raise families in Noh-Bec, a sign that there are real opportunities in the area.

The GEF visit delegation not only saw the challenges in the first person but also the potential of sustainable forestry in the tropics. GEF support has been instrumental in helping Noh-Bec and dozens of communities in southern Mexico manage their natural resources sustainably and generate global environmental benefits by protecting biodiversity and carbon sequestration.

More information about the project