The 5 great forests are being destroyed at an alarming rate: In the last 15 years three have been reduce in size by almost a quarter.

Illegal cattle ranching is responsible for more than 90% of recent deforestation.

Poverty, drug trafficking, organized crime, and the impacts of climate change combine to amplify these threats. We will approach these challenges through four initiatives:

  • Improve governance: We will help strengthen law enforcement and remove cattle from key protected areas, including indigenous and community managed forests, by increasing capacity, staff, training, equipment and budgets for forest protection, recovery, and restoration.
  • Support livelihoods: We will assist Indigenous governments and community forest organizations to strengthen their rights, access, and land tenure. We will also bolster sustainable livelihood alternatives to cattle ranching, such as cacao production for local artisanal chocolate and products compatible with forest conservation.
  • Address drivers of deforestation: We will tackle the main driver of forest destruction by advancing policies that disincentivize cattle ranching in critical forest areas.
  • Reforest and restore: We will restore areas degraded by cattle ranching in order to maintain large contiguous stretches of forest.

Why is a regional approach important?

  • Regional climate impacts: Forestry, livestock and agriculture are the foundations of Central American economies and all three of these sectors are vulnerable to climate change.
  • Transboundary landscapes: All five forests are bi-or tri-national, requiring multi-country coordination to achieve solutions at scale.
  • Transboundary threats: Cattle is the primary driver of deforestation in the five forests, fomented by transboundary contraband and export market leakage, only solvable with a regional approach.
  • Similarity of challenges: Countries face similar challenges in terms of threats, capacities, and institutional readiness status, allowing for a coherent approach to regional preparedness.
  • Opportunity for cross-pollination: Best practices and common challenges exist within region, allowing for South-South learning and cooperation.
  • Political coherence: All countries belong to the Central American Integration System (SICA), with existing coordination mechanisms and political bodies for environment (CCAD) and commerce. Moreover, in their regional climate action plan, presented at COP25, all eight countries committed to collaboration to sustain the five forests as part of the natural solution to the climate crisis.
  • Joint Negotiation and publicity: Small countries are disadvantaged with respect to their ability to leverage financing and demonstrate impact at scale. By jointly developing and negotiating climate commitments, Mesoamerica will better compete for climate financing on a global scale.