The Conservation Coast, Guatemala

Project Summary

The REDD+ project for Caribbean Guatemala: The Conservation Coast, is now part of the Carbon Balanced programme. The project was developed by World Land Trust’s Guatemalan partner FUNDAECO and is VCS Verified and validated to Climate, Community and Biodiversity Standards (CCB).

This project supports hundreds of landowners, including local communities, to register and obtain land titles to protect 133,827 acres (54,158 hectares) of threatened coastal forest.

FUNDAECO are working with over 3,000 families to transform local livelihoods through job creation in ecotourism and agricultural training for sustainable agroforestry systems.

The project has established systems for forest monitoring and surveillance, law enforcement, and conservation education to protect the forest and biodiversity.

The project is estimated to avoid emissions from deforestation by 728,000 tCO2e annually.


Tropical and subtropical moist broadleaf forests


Predominantly the Central American Atlantic Moist Forests but the project area also incorporates areas of mangrove (Gulf Caribbean)


Mix of lowland forest, wetland, mangrove and lagoon areas


The Mesoamerican Biological Corridor is vital for migratory birds making their biannual journey up and down coastal Central America. The project area contains an estimated 359 species of bird, 90 of which are Nearctic-Neotropical migrants and winter residents.

The area also supports over 126 species of mammal, including 20 species endemic to Mesoamerica, along with larger species including Jaguar, Baird’s Tapir, West Indian (American) Manatee and Neotropical Otter.

Main Threats To The Area

Poverty, rapid population increase and the expansion of the agricultural frontier are the main drivers of deforestation across the region.

Less than 20% of lowland forest cover remains in Guatemala due to cattle ranching, subsistence slash-and-burn agriculture and agro-industrial monocultures (banana, oil palm and rubber).

In recent years, coastal and riverfront areas have been threatened by an increase in private construction led by wealthy residents of Guatemala City and Puerto Barrios. The project lies within the Río Sarstún Protected Area, but this “protection” classification doesn’t protect forest timber from being harvested and sold commercially.

Aerial view of palm oil plantations, Guatemala. ©FUNDAECO
FUNDAECO’s ‘Healthy and Empowered Women and Girls’ Programme. Credit: FUNDAECO Archive

Local Communities

The region’s indigenous people are the Maya Q´eqchi’, who form 50% of Izabal´s total population. They are among the poorest and most underserved communities in Guatemala.

The towns of Livingston and Puerto Barrios are also inhabited by Garífunas, members of an African-American culture that developed around the Gulf of Honduras.

The main livelihood in the project region is subsistence agriculture based on bean and maize cultivation, with more affluent households also practicing cattle ranching that is unavailable to most local and indigenous communities.

Over 100 such communities benefit from the project, playing a pivotal role through active participation in consultation, decision-making, and implementation of project activities.

External Standards

The Guatemalan Conservation Coast Project is verified by the Verified Carbon Standard (VCS, project ID 1622) and the Climate, Community and Biodiversity Standard (CCB) to the gold level for biodiversity.

Verified Carbon Standard logo
The Climate, Community & Biodiversity (CCB) Standards

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