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).

Hydrometric station measures the flow of river in Guatemala

The Ocosito River has the first hydrometric station in the basin.

The Guatemalan Sugar Industry is committed to the care and conservation of the environment, and is part of the Ocosito river Basin Technical Committee, and gave support to the installation of a Hydrometric Station to measure the flow of the Ocosito River.

The Technical Committee took a tour to verify progress in flow measurement, user coordination, and reforestation. The Guatemalan Sugar Industry is member of these committee since 2016.

The Ocosito River has the first hydrometric station in the basin. This is a device with sensors that automatically records the flow of the river, which allows knowing if the flow is low or very high, allowing communities in the lower part to be alerted to the risk of flooding.

Technical Committee promotes conservation of the Ocosito river basin

The Ocosito River has the first hydrometric station in the basin. The members of the Ocosito Technical Committee; included the Guatemalan Sugar Industry have promoted a program for the restoration and conservation of the basin through reforestation for the creation of gallery forests, among other modalities, which contribute to forest restoration. Since 2016, communities, local organizations, companies such as El Pilar, Magdalena, and Palo Gordo sugar mills Agroaceites, Grupo Hame, that have planted more than 102 hectares with native trees to create gallery forests on the riverbanks, mangrove restoration and productive forests, with the support of the National Institute of Forests -INAB-, Rainforest Alliance and the Private Institute for Research on Climate Change -ICC-.

Through the Technical Committee, the coordination of water users has been achieved, something that historically had not existed and that has made it possible to optimize the use of water in production processes and coordinate with communities. Currently, with the support of the United Nations Development Program -UNDP- and MARN, a management plan for this basin is being developed.

These actions have allowed great advances in water management, which are reflected in the fact that the Ocosito River has achieved its flow to its mouth during the last 5 years, improving conditions with a more rational use.

The Ocosito River has the first hydrometric station in the basin. The technical committee was born in 2016 out of the need to organize and make rational use of water. In 2021, promoted by the Vice Ministry of Water, through Government Agreement 19-2021, it was institutionalized as a more comprehensive technical organization for the recovery and conservation of the Ocosito basin.

The conservation of the basin faces several challenges, such as:

  • The contamination of the hydric resource; for example, the garbage in the rivers.
  • Climate change
  • Plans for the proper management and conservation of water and other natural resources
  • Work with a comprehensive approach to the conservation of the basin.

Water management is a challenge for Guatemala and for humanity, which requires the integration of the sectors that are part of society.

The Guatemalan Sugar Industry gets ready with 900 thousand trees

Tree nurseries of the Guatemalan Sugar Industry for reforestation

ThThe Guatemalan Sugar Industry and the Private Institute for Climate Change Research -ICC- have 900,000 trees in 63 nurseries as part of the Reforestation Plan. In the nurseries, 26 species of trees are grown, such as cedar, mahogany, eucalyptus, pine, among others.

The nurseries are in 39 municipalities in the departments of Escuintla, Sacatepequez, Santa Rosa, Chimaltenango, Jutiapa, Retalhuleu, San Marcos, Quetzaltenango, Solola and Suchitepequez.

Since 2011, the Sugar Industry has implemented the National Reforestation Plan for the recovery of forests on the South of Guatemala. In 2021, with the support of the ICC, the figure of 6.8 million trees planted was reached thanks to this program. It is expected to reach 7.7 million trees planted with the 2022 reforestation.

Importance of nurseries

Azúcar de Guatemala - Viveros para reforestacionThe nurseries in which the trees are prepared for the National Reforestation Plan are managed by municipalities, institutions, companies, and communities. These inter-institutional alliances help to promote forest culture in the communities where they are implemented.

ICC supports with seeds and supplies necessary for cultivation, as well as technical advice in conjunction with the National Institute of Forests -INAB-. The villagers provide the space for the nursery, the labor for all the daily tasks, and the land.

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.