Conserving mangrove forests in Guatemala

Behind the Lens of Healthy Forests for Healthy People: Navigating Mangrove Forests in Guatemala

By Climatelinks

This blog series features interviews with the winners of the 2020 Climatelinks Photo Contest. This photo, submitted on behalf of Guatemala’s USAID Biodiversity Project, is available on the Climatelinks Photo Gallery.

Can you tell us the story behind the photo, such as the people in the photo and how it was captured? 

One morning, we were on a canal through the mangroves on Guatemala’s South Coast when I saw a little boat with a girl and a woman in it coming toward us. I was captivated by the composition. Perhaps one of the most interesting things for me was the older woman steering the boat. I thought she was transmitting knowledge to this little girl, likely to be her granddaughter. 

As the photographer, what does this photo mean to you? 

This photo illustrates generational change. The older woman is showing her granddaughter how she can live using coastal marine resources like mangroves, fish, water, and so on. 

This year’s theme was “Healthy Forests for Healthy People.” Tell us more about how your photo relates to the theme.

People living in coastal zones depend on mangrove forests for their livelihoods and household needs. Mangroves protect nursery habitats for freshwater and marine species, provide a source of income from tourism, and supply timber for construction. Mangroves also store more carbon per unit area than any other major forest type in Guatemala — equivalent to nearly 900 tons per hectare. However, mangroves currently occupy less than 30 percent of their original extent nationally and declined by more than 25 percent between 2010 and 2016. 

How does this photo show work that is being done to combat climate change?

 This photo highlights the real conditions of our people and the tropical forests in Guatemala. During the dry season, mangroves are susceptible to fire from illegal land clearing, while they are permanently threatened by sugar cane plantations and shrimp farms. USAID’s Guatemala Biodiversity project works with the National Council of Protected Areas, local authorities, and rural communities to protect mangrove forests by preventing and controlling forest fires and monitoring forest cover.

The Climatelinks community is encouraged to submit new photos to the gallery through this submission form.

Strategic Objective
Adaptation, Integration, Mitigation
Adaptation, Ecosystem-based Adaptation, Biodiversity, Carbon, Climate Change Integration, Conflict and Governance, Forestry, Gender and Social Inclusion, Sustainable Land Management, Mitigation, Natural Resource Management, Water and Sanitation
Latin America & Caribbean



Climatelinks is a global knowledge portal for USAID staff, implementing partners, and the broader community working at the intersection of climate change and international development. The portal curates and archives technical guidance and knowledge related to USAID’s work to help countries mitigate and adapt to climate change. 

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