The Nature Conservancy and a local partner organization, Defensores de La Naturaleza, have been working to protect the Sierra de Las Minas Biosphere Reserve and the Motagua Valley Thorn Scrub.
UNESCO recognized Sierra de Las Minas National Park as one of the most biologically diverse mountain ranges in Central America by naming it a Biosphere Reserve in 1993. The Motagua Valley Thorn Scrub is one of Central America's driest ecosystems.
Sierra de Las Minas Biosphere Reserve is located in northeastern Guatemala, with the topography defined by the Motagua geological fault to the south, the Polochic fault to the north and the Izabal depression, which have created altitudinal ranges from 0 to 10,000 feet.
Over 400 bird species are also found here, including the resplendent quetzal, the harpy eagle and the peregrine falcon. The area is a significant flyway and wintering spot for North American migrants.
The Motagua Valley Thorn Scrub contains endemic and threatened species such as the ironwood tree, several species of cacti and a bromeliad called Tillandsia xerographica. In the Sierra de Las Minas region, conifers, oaks, and diverse populations of flowering plants coexist with mosses, ferns and epiphytes.
Due to the enormous amount of water produced by the Sierra de las Minas and the many water users who depend on this precious resource for their livelihoods, the Conservancy is seeking to create and strengthen financial mechanisms for conservation such as water funds.
Such funds have been used elsewhere in Latin America, whereby water user fees contribute to a fund that compensates local communities for watershed protection and reforestation along rivers, streams and lakes. In the Sierra de las Minas, water usage fees charged to municipalities, beverage companies and export crop businesses would ensure that safe drinking water flows out of users’ faucets in cities and helps the local communities where the water originates.July 03, 2012