The Guatemalan Sugar Industry acquires commitments to preserve and restore biodiversity

Presentation of the guidelines for the conservation and restoration of biological diversity

The Guatemalan Sugar Industry, with the technical advice of the Private Institute for Climate Change Research -ICC- and with the support of the Biodiversity and Business program in Central America and the Dominican Republic of the German Technical Cooperation -GIZ-, announced the commitments and “Guidelines for the Preservation and Restoration of the Biological Diversity in the Guatemalan Production of Sugar”.

Aware that Guatemala is one of the 20 megadiverse countries in the world, the directors of all the sugar mills, members of the Guatemalan Sugar Producers Association, approved the guidelines to take specific actions to meet the goal of care and restore the biodiversity in the sugarcane zone.

“In the agro-landscape where sugarcane is grown were documented a third of all the birds know to live in the country. 248 species of birds have been identified in the forests and forest segments within the land where sugarcane grows, 55 of these species are protected according to international and national conservation lists, in addition 78 species of migratory birds find refuge in the sugar cane agro-landscape. ”, explained Alex Guerra, director of the ICC.

“Caring for this biological wealth in our environment is fundamental; thats why we’ve made commitments to carry out our operations in a sustainable way, prioritizing conservation and restoration so that the present and future generations can enjoy the flora and fauna that take refuge in the sugarcane zone”, said Alfredo Vila, president of the Guatemalan Sugar Producers Association -Asazgua-.

Result of over 5 years of investigation

After more than 5 years of studies at the sugarcane landscape, ICC experts documented the existence of a great biological wealth. In Guatemala the sugarcane grows at the south of the country, in a landscape mixed with forests and other plantations.

With the technical support of the ICC and GIZ,  guidelines for the conservation and restoration of biological diversity in the production of Guatemalan Sugar were developed.

Bird seeing in forest within cane fields in GuatemalaThe Guatemalan Sugar Industry will have the scientific advice of the ICC to implement the guidelines, according to the natural conditions of each work area.

“The biological wealth that provides refuge to multiple species in the sugarcane agro-landscape is a treasure that must be taken care of.  It is crucial to protect the biological biodiversity in the world and here, the Guatemalan Sugar Industry has taken important commitments to allow Guatemala’s natural legacy to be perpetuated and inherit it to future generations” added Alfredo Vila president of the Guatemalan Sugar Producers Association -Asazgua-.

Click here to see the full document (in Spanish).

Local and subnational governments and the application of the GFB 2030 through transformative actions

We invite you to register and participate in the event “Local and subnational governments and the application of the GFB 2030 through transformative actions” organized by the framework convention on biological diversity, which aims to discuss and exchange experiences for the development of sustainable projects in the present and for the future.

Representatives of local and national governments, UN agencies, non-governmental organizations, activists and stakeholders in the biodiversity agenda will participate, WBio2022. The agenda: WBIO2022_Program

WBio2022 Agenda

WBio2022 Agenda

The Guatemalan Sugar Industry will reach in 2022 more than 7.7 million trees reforested

The Guatemalan Sugar will reforest 900 thousend trees in 2022

The Guatemalan Sugar Industry together with the Private Institute for Climate Change Research -ICC- and local partners carried out the program for the recovery and conservation of forests for the eleventh consecutive year, with the planting of 900,000 trees in 400 hectares of land with species such as: cedar, mahogany, Ear Pod Tree, Picconia excelsa, pine, cypress, cocoa, among others.

“With this year’s reforestation plan, the Guatemalan Sugar Industry will have contributed to the planting of 7.7 million trees since the beginning of the Program in 2011. As part of our commitment to the environment, during these 11 years we have joined efforts with communities, local authorities, and organizations, for the conservation and recovery of forests on riverbanks and upper parts of basins”, commented Alfredo Vila, President of the Association of Sugar Producers of Guatemala -Asazgua-.

The Guatemalan Sugar will reforest 900 thousend trees in 2022The Reforestation Plan began with the planting of 300 trees on a farm Called Belem, jurisdiction of Masagua, Escuintla, located at 370 kilometers (230 miles) in the south of Guatemala City. With this activity, the reforestation season officially begins, and will last until August.

It will be carried out in 10 departments of the country: Santa Rosa, Chimaltenango, Escuintla, Suchitepéquez, Retalhuleu, Jalapa, Sololá, Sacatepéquez, Jutiapa and Quetzaltenango.

The production of the trees was in more than 50 nurseries installed in 30 municipalities in 10 departments of the country, “these nurseries are municipal, regional, business owned and community owned,” explained Dr. Alex Guerra, director of the ICC. “The ICC provides seeds, supplies and technical advice in conjunction with INAB,” he added. These is with the financing provided by the Guatemalan Sugar Industry.

More than 310 hectares of land have been reforested by the Guatemalan Sugar Industry initiative on the banks of the rivers on the South of Guatemala alone, equivalent to more than 430 soccer fields, creating gallery forests and biological corridor.

These forests on the banks of rivers help water recharge, soil conservation by preventing erosion and are also natural barriers that prevent flooding and are also home to species of plants and animals.

Did you know that 248 species of birds live in forests of the Guatemalan Sugar Industry?

Bird seeing in forest within cane fields in Guatemala

The Private Institute for Climate Change Research -ICC- has conducted studies that count 248 distinct species of birds that inhabit forests within the cane fields of the South of Guatemala, area where the sugarcane grows. Those forests along with the roads, forests, rivers, plants, and animal life are called the “agro landscape.”

In addition, ICC researchers have identified 78 species of migratory birds, which find refuge in the agricultural landscape of sugar cane. These species travel each year from the northern hemisphere of the continent to the south.

Migratory birds travel between September and November of each year and return to North America between March and May. When they pass through Guatemala, the wooded areas of the cane fields provide them with food and shelter, thus they manage to accumulate energy to fly and continue their journey.

Plants and animal life of the Sugar Industry forests

In addition to birds, in the agro landscapes of the Guatemalan Sugar Industry, inhabit 17 families of reptiles and amphibians have also been recorded in these ecosystems; They live on land and water. Likewise, 219 species of trees have been identified, which provide food and shelter to the animal life of the South of Guatemala.

This agro landscape, and the scientific evidence compiled by experts, reaffirms the commitment of the Guatemalan Sugar Industry to be sustainable with the environment and preserve the biological diversity of the South of Guatemala.

Guatemala Sugar Industry ForestAs an example, the Guatemalan Sugar Industry carries out every year a reforestation program. The Sugar Mills have 2,507 hectares of natural forests, which are protected and cared for. These forests are part of the agricultural landscape of the South of Guatemala and benefit the conservation of biological diversity.

 

The Guatemalan Sugar Industry reuses waste as organic fertilizer to conserve soil

The Guatemala Sugar Industry has relied on research and science to be more environmentally sustainable for the planting and harvesting of sugarcane. An example of this is the development and implementation of practices for the conservation and sustainable use of soil.

practicas de conservacion de suelosSince 2012, the Sugar Industry has worked hand in hand with the Guatemalan Center for Research and Training of Sugar Cane -Cengicaña- and the Private Institute for Research on Climate Change -ICC- on practices to stop or prevent erosion, conserve soil, and improve their fertility and productivity.

Reuse of waste as organic fertilizer

During the production of sugar, significant amounts of organic waste are generated as byproducts that have a high agronomic value, including filter mud, ash, and vinasse. Cengicaña scientists discovered that applying these byproducts to the soil improves its physical, chemical, and biological properties.

For example, filter mud is a residue from the manufacture of sugar and provides phosphorus, calcium, and nitrogen, among others. It is estimated that each harvest produces more than 750,000 tons of this residue that is used to nourish fields.

Vinasse is a liquid residue from the distillation of alcohol and is mainly made up of water, organic matter and minerals that benefit the soil. Just as ash, mixed with filter mud, is beneficial for acidic soils, which favors greater availability of nutrients for plants and generally improves soil health.

Green fertilizer program

Crotalaria flowerJust as they use organic fertilizers, the Sugar Industry also uses green fertilizers, an ecological measure of planting legume plants that provide the soil with nitrogen for nutrition in an ecological and environmentally friendly way.

When legumes are mixed with the soil, they provide organic matter that improves the texture and structure of the soil and promotes the development of microorganisms that are beneficial to crops.

All these good practices are promoted by Cengicaña with the aim of comprehensively using biological and organic elements that are sustainable with the environment for the cultivation of sugarcane.

The carbon footprint of Guatemalan Sugar is one of the lowest internationally

The carbon footprint of Guatemalan Sugar is one of the lowest internationally

The Guatemalan Sugar Industry, committed to the sustainable management of the environment and the mitigation of climate change, has made efforts in its production processes to reduce greenhouse gas emissions; as a result, the carbon footprint of Guatemalan Sugar is one of the lowest internationally.

The carbon footprint of Guatemalan Sugar for the 2019-2020 harvest was estimated at 0.33kg of CO2eq for each kilogram of sugar produced, which is among the lowest in relation to others worldwide, according to the Emissions Inventory Study of Greenhouse Gases and Carbon Footprint of Guatemalan Sugar by the Private Institute for Climate Change Research -ICC-.

ICC experts carried out an inventory of emissions generated by the burning of sugarcane biomass in the field, use of nitrogen fertilizers and other fertilizers and agricultural inputs, change of use and land cover, use of fuels for agricultural and transport activities, generation of electricity for internal consumption, consumption of electrical energy from the national interconnected system, inputs for industrial processes and industrial wastewater.

The result of this balance, between what we emit, fix, and avoid is the carbon footprint. Guatemalan Sugar has a footprint of “0.33kg CO2eq / kg sugar” (0.33 kilograms of CO2 equivalent per kilogram of sugar), it is a very small footprint compared to other foods and to other sugar-producing countries in the world.

For example, our carbon footprint is lower than that of producers in the United States, the European Union, Thailand, and the United Kingdom, among others. This means that the Guatemalan Sugar production process is more environmentally friendly.

Guatemalan Sugar gallery forests

It is important to mention that there are activities that generate emissions, but there are also activities that reduce or avoid them; for example, when cane grows, it absorbs or stores CO2 from the environment, which it needs to grow. The Guatemalan Sugar Industry also has natural forests that store 1,415,638 tons of CO2 equivalent.

Likewise, the generation of energy with the bagasse or biomass of the cane prevents up to 4 million tons of CO2 from reaching the environment per year, since it uses a renewable resource and not fossil fuels such as mineral coal. In the Zafra season, the Sugar Industry supplies around 30% of the energy that the country uses, this renewable energy.

The sugarcane crops in Guatemala use 47% less water compared with the rest of the world

Guatemalan cane irrigation system

As part of the commitment to the rational use of water, the Guatemalan Sugar Industry has adopted several measures that allow them to be more efficient and sustainable with the environment, as a result, each ton of sugarcane produced in Guatemala uses 47% less water than the cane produced at world level.

The water footprint of the Guatemalan Sugar Industry is 47% lower than the global average, according to a study prepared by the Private Institute for Climate Change Research -ICC-.

According to this study, the country’s meteorological conditions have made it possible for rain to contribute 73% of the water footprint of the crop during the 2019-2020 harvest, and the irrigation water used represented only 21% of the water footprint.

In addition, Cengicaña experts have developed a mobile application to optimize the use of irrigation water in sugarcane called Cengiriegos, which allows only the water it needs to be applied to the plant.

Likewise, in the industrial process, the Sugar Industry has also invested to optimize the use of the vital liquid, an example of this is that the water used in the sugar manufacturing process is reused repeatedly and for this there are specialized towers that receive the water used to make sugar, cool it and then return it to the factory, in a recirculation process.

cooling systems

The Guatemalan Sugar Industry contributes to the aquatic biodiversity

Ingenios azucareros siembran peces para contribuir con la diversidad

The conservation of biodiversity is one of the commitments of the Guatemalan Sugar Industry, therefore it is one of the main axes of its the Environmental Policy. Within this framework, the sugar sector has implemented the fish stocking program in the rivers of the South of Guatemala.

The stocking of fish aims to increase the population of native species in rivers. The Guatemalan Sugar Industry, with the support of the Private Institute for Climate Change Research -ICC-, breed 3 species of native mojarras: Prieta, Tusa and Balcera; in addition to the freshwater snail, which reproduce in ponds and are released into rivers with the support of the community.

Los ingenios azucareros siembran peces para contribuir a la diversidadSinces 2015 the Sugar Industry in conjunction with the ICC have released around 160,000 fingerlings and 18,000 freshwater snail into three rivers of the South of Guatemala. The ICC conducts studies to analyze the fish population in various rivers of the South of Guatemala, with the aim of determining how the aquatic fauna is doing and prioritizing fish releases where necessary, always using native species.

The Environmental Policy of the Guatemalan Sugar Industry, which began to be implemented in the 2015/16 zafra, regulates eight aspects: sugarcane burning, use and management of fertilizers, use of water, use of vinaza, use of water in the factory, solid waste management, particulates in chimneys and air quality; as well as protection of biodiversity. Every year improvements are made to achieve this objective of caring for the environment in its operation.

More than 900 thousand trees will be planted in 2021

the Reforestation Plan of the Guatemalan Sugar Industry was launched

Within the framework of National Tree Day, the Reforestation Plan of the Guatemalan Sugar Industry was launched, which for this year consists of the planting of 900 thousand trees in 10 departments of the country.

The planting of the 900 thousand trees takes place between May and August, on 400 hectares of land, which in the future will become forests in the departments of Santa Rosa, Chimaltenango, Escuintla, Suchitepequez, Retalhuleu, Jalapa, Solola, Sacatepequez , Jutiapa and Quetzaltenango.

The Reforestation Plan of the Guatemalan Sugar Industry began with a symbolic planting of 100 trees on a farm in Santa Lucia Cotzumalguapa, Escuintla; with which the forest cover in the area is increased. It should be noted that, since 2017, more than 2,700 trees have been planted in the area, reaching three hectares of forest.

The activity was attended by the Regional Delegate of the Ministry of Environment and Natural Resources -MARN-, Eng. Juan Chamo; the Escuintla Subregional Director of the National Forest Institute -INAB-, Eng. Hugo Rene Monroy; the Manager of Environmental Compliance Manager of the Guatemalan Sugar Producers Association -Asazgua-, Eng. Otto Fuentes; the Director of the Private Institute for Climate Change Research -ICC-, Ph. D. Alex Guerra; as well as collaborators from the sugar mills and the media.

“As part of our commitment to the care and conservation of the environment, since 2011 the Guatemalan Sugar Industry started a program with the -ICC-, for the conservation and recovery of forests in strategic areas that contribute to the protection of riverbanks, zones of hydric recharge and biological corridors” affirmed Otto Fuentes, Manager of Environmental Compliance Manager of Asazgua.

the Reforestation Plan of the Guatemalan Sugar Industry was launched

Through this program, by the end of 2021, a total of 6.8 million trees will be planted in eleven years, with the support of the sugar sector,” said Alex Guerra, Director of the ICC. Likewise, he indicated that in each region native species are planted that serve as energy, timber, and conservation plantations; among them Cedar, Mahogany, Palo Blanco, among others”.

ICC provides technical and scientific support and advice and is the link with communities, organizations, municipal and regional authorities, for the installation of nurseries and identification of reforestation areas. The 900 thousand plants to be planted this year were produced in 88 nurseries installed in different locations. In addition, this program has the support of the National Institute of Forests -INAB-.

The Guatemalan Sugar Industry works on restoration and conservation

The Guatemalan Sugar Industry is committed to a sustainable agriculture that is adaptable to climate change, with that objective supports the conservation and recovery of forests on riverbanks and upper parts of the basins, care of the soils that include green manure and conservation and recovery practices for the ecosystem such as fish farming, among others.

Forest recovery and conservation

In alliance with the Private Institute for Climate Change -ICC-, since 2011 the Guatemalan Sugar Industry has contributed to the recovery and conservation of forests by planting more than 5.9 million trees in the upper basin and riverbanks that flow into the South of Guatemala.

As part of this effort, 284 hectares of land have been reforested on the banks of the rivers of the South of the country alone, equivalent to 400 football fields, creating gallery forests and biological corridors.

These forests on the banks of rivers help to recharge water, to conserve soils by avoiding erosion and are also natural barriers that prevent floods, while they are home to species of flora and fauna.

In addition, the Guatemalan Sugar Industry has 2,507 hectares of natural forests, which are protected and cared for, and are part of the agro-landscape of the South of Guatemala and benefit the conservation of biological diversity.

Soil conservation

Since 2012, the Guatemalan Sugar Industry has worked hand in hand with the Guatemalan Center for Research and Training of Sugar Cane -Cengicaña- and the ICC in the development and implementation of practices for soil conservation.

One of these important practices is the plowing or the disposition of the land for the cultivation of sugarcane, so that it can better absorb water and nutrients, which preserves fertility and prevents erosion and flooding.

Legumes at Ingenio La Union

In addition, the Sugar Industry has implemented green manure through the sowing of legume plants that return nitrogen to the soil naturally. Sugarcane cultivation is renewed every 5 years to maintain its yield, so that, in the ideal areas, this renewal is used to rest and nourish the soil with the sowing of a legume that takes between 6 and 8 months in the field.

Legumes are the only group of plants that can capture nitrogen from the air and incorporate it into their body. When they are mixed with the soil, they contribute organic matter that improves the texture and structure of the soil. In addition, it promotes the proliferation of microorganisms that are beneficial for crops.

Crop rotation also helps in pest control because, by exchanging the cane for legumes, the life cycle of the insects that feed on the sugar cane is broken.

Release of native fish into rivers

Another program implemented by the refineries is to enrich the fauna in the rivers. This activity called “stocking fish” aims to increase the population of native species in the rivers of the South of Guatemala. The Sugar Industry, with the support of the ICC, has released around 50,000 fingerlings or small fish into the rivers.