The project "Cross-Border Coordination to Reduce IWT in the Guatemala-Mexico Green Corridor" led by WCS and implemented with the support of the Illegal Wildlife Trade (IWT) Challenge Fund of the United Kingdom has advanced through the mid-point of a 30-month project. The project is strengthening the conservation of species vulnerable to Illegal Trafficking, and reinforcing the capabilities of government institutions managing the protected areas of both countries. In Guatemala, focal areas include the Mirador-Rio Azul National Park, the Naachtún Dos Lagunas Protected Biotope, and the Paxbán Management Unit of the Multiple Use Zone, all management units of the Maya Biosphere Reserve. In Mexico, focal areas include the Calakmul Biosphere Reserve and the Balamku State Reserve; these protected areas share remarkable natural and cultural importance. The threats that were detected at the beginning of the project, particularly the illegal looting of precious timber species, have been significantly reduced through field patrols and transfrontier coordination among the IWT network of partners implementing the project.
Some important advances that have taken place during the last 12 months of implementation include the following:
1. Project personnel received a visit by UK Ambassador Nick Whittingham to the Guatemalan Department of Petén. Project partners presented advances within the framework "Cross-Border Coordination to Reduce IWT in the Green Corridor of Guatemala-Mexico", and subsequently visited the community of San Miguel La Palotada, one of the IWT focal areas rural residents vulnerable to wildlife trafficking are receiving support for livelihoods alternatives.
2. Partners have held 16 meetings of the Binational IWT Network using virtual media Guatemala-Mexico to coordinate project activities during the last 12 months of execution.
3. 465 national and / or binational patrols have been implemented within the project´s focal areas, increasing inter-institutional field presence and covering approximately 26,532 km of territory. With the leadership of CONAP, CECON and FUNDAECO, 7 poachers of Mexican nationality were captured while carrying out illegal logging and illegal hunting within the Mirador-Rio Azul National Park and the Calakmul Biosphere Reserve. The prevalence of illegal timber poaching in Guatemala has been reduced by more than 90%.
4. 107 individuals within the communities of San Miguel La Palotada and Cruce a la Colorada in Guatemala have received support with livelihoods projects (small animal husbandry, beekeeping, ecological restoration through agroforestry systems) as alternative livelihoods to improve their wellbeing.
5. To inform the government authorities about the threat of Wildlife Trafficking that exists in between Guatemala and Mexico, the project "Cross-Border Coordination to Reduce IWT in the Guatemala-Mexico Green Corridor" IWT076 partners presented the project in two public coordination spaces: 1) the Strategic Coordination Group (GOC) of the Selva Maya, and 2) the Coordinating Committee of the Maya Biosphere Reserve.
6. We developed a baseline on awareness regarding IWT in the Green Corridor of the Selva Maya by authorities in the Guatemalan government.
7. We produced an IWT patrolling protocol for Mirador-Rio Azul National Park, Naachtun Dos Lagunas Protected Biotope and the Paxban management unit of Guatemala´s MBR. Likewise, 2 draft IWT protocols are advanced for the geographic areas of Mexico, including the Balamku State Reserve and the Calakmul Biosphere Reserve.