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CATIE promotes knowledge sharing and innovation for biological monitoring in Guatemala's Central Volcanic Chain

  • By implementing a biological monitoring system with camera traps and acoustic sensors, management to conserve and restore forests is strengthened

June 15, 2020. With the aim of contributing to the conservation and restoration of forest landscapes in the Central Volcanic Chain of Guatemala, CATIE (Tropical Agricultural Research and Higher Education Center), in collaboration with wildlife researchers, students of the biology career at the University of Valle de Guatemala (UVG), technical and field staff of the National Council of Protected Areas (CONAP), the National Institute of Forests (INAB, its Spanish acronym), as well as the municipalities of San Andrés Itzapa and Acatenango, in Chimaltenango, have developed a series of training modules and knowledge sharing on strategic and operational issues to implement a biological monitoring protocol in forests and key conservation areas in the territory.

Between March and June of this year, four of the eight scheduled webinars have been organized and developed as a follow-up to the implementation process of the biological monitoring protocol, in which 20 people have been involved, including researchers, biology students, technical staff and forest rangers.

Estuardo Girón, coordinator of the project Conservation and Sustainable Management of the Forest Landscape Acatenango Volcano, Cerro Sanay and Montaña El Socó, pointed out that the objective is for the municipalities, institutions and local actors involved to generate and use strategic information to make decisions related to the management of forests in municipal, communal and private property, by generating evidence on the state of health of the ecosystems and biodiversity.

With the support, collaboration and recommendations of researchers from the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) and the French National Museum of Natural History, as well as UVG biology students and operational staff, 15 camera traps and acoustic monitors are being deployed in an area of just over 12,500 hectares of interconnected forest landscape, part of Guatemala's Central Volcanic Chain.

"The preliminary results are very encouraging in terms of the health of the ecosystems and biodiversity in the territory," said Girón.

In addition, important advances have been made as a result of monitoring rounds and the generation of preliminary data on endemic, regional and rare birds, such as the Cayenne (Pelenopina nigra) and the Mountain Scraper Sparrow (Atlapetes albinucha), elquetzalillo (Trogon collaris), whistle-billed quail (Dactylortyx thoracicus), Central American quail (Dendrortyx leucophrys) and scaly Chinese ant (Grallaria guatimalensis).  Among the mammals identified, the gray fox (Urocyon cinereoargenteus) and the coati (Nasua narica) have been observed in the forests under monitoring, through the use of remote devices, constituting a unique initiative in its genre in the Central Volcanic Chain of Guatemala.

The initiative's multidisciplinary field team is supported by Elvis Serech, leader of the project's technical and operational staff, as well as forest rangers from San Andrés Itzapa and Acatenango; it also has the support of José Soto, WWF researcher; Pablo Bolaños, researcher from the French National Museum of Natural History, and Juan Fernando Hernández, senior advisor on plant ecology, as well as the participation and contributions of Emilio Joachín and Jairo Peña from the UVG.

According to Julio López, CATIE's representative in Guatemala, the Acatenango volcano, with an altitude of 3976 meters above sea level, is one of the main tourist sites in Guatemala, with an average of 36,000 people visiting per year, of which 87% are foreign visitors.  In this case, as an added value to the tourist attraction, the information generated by the biological monitoring will allow to contribute to know better the state of conservation of the species, as well as its wealth and biodiversity, with which there will be inputs for a better planning of activities and strategies of conservation, research and ecotourism.

This project is being implemented with the financial support of the Fund for the Conservation of Tropical Forests (FCA), the municipalities of Acatenango and San Andrés Itzapa, in the department of Chimaltenango, and the Private Institute for Research on Climate Change (ICC). Also involved in the implementation of this initiative are the Guatemalan Institute of Tourism (INGUAT, its Spanish acronym), the National Council of Protected Areas (CONAP, its Spanish acronym) and the National Institute of Forests (INAB, its Spanish acronym), as well as the Community Development Councils (Cocodes, its Spanish acronym) of both municipalities.


Mayor información y redacción:

Estuardo Girón
Coordinador Proyecto CATIE-FCA Paisajes Forestales
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Elvis Serech
Especialista Proyecto CATIE-FCA Paisajes Forestales
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