Our Reforestation Rendered Significant Results

With a minimum investment a direct targeted program permitted the Guatemala Military to gain experience as participants in a Save the Forest Project. Direct targeted programs address felt needs. They are capable of  producing resolute co-leaders and followers, without trampling on the rights of others and in this case became a useful vehicle for helping opposing forces to work together following the 1996 Peace Accords. Working informally a foreigner helped the opposing forces to be team players with the end result being a self sustaining project.

Model Reforestation Project 1997-2001, now Sustained Solely By the Originator

Sign displayed along side the Model Save the Rain Forestation Project

 Pictured below are seedlings which had been germinated by BJ Institute professionals. Techniques for grooming the tree seedlings had been underway from 1995 through 2001. Germination of the Zericotte seeds requires an extra long warm period and follow on care of the seedlings and the trees. Beautiful growths result. From this work, we know growing one tree has a thousand-to-one payoff probability, an economic asset highly needed by the Guatemalan society.

Teaching How to Plant Seedlings

     Here military personnel take instructions on how to set seedlings so their roots would grow straight down and receive the most water during critical formative months of each tree’s life. An immense number of man-months of work were contributed. This showed the military personnel they could play useful roles in Guatemala’s rebuilding process.

Rain Forest Seedlings Ready to Plant

Seedlings for the Reforestation Project: Summer-Fall 2000

Logistical achievements required daily organization. Due diligence had to be used for BJ Institute personnel to achieve these feats. BJ Institute personnel asked Petén Governor Adán Regalado and San José City Mayor Julian Tesucun to foster these efforts by giving the approval to proceed. Outside investors helped by underwriting expenses. The Zona 21 Commandant of the Guatemala Military joined the project anticipating his personnel would be favorably received by the Sayaxche indigenous repatriated and resettled after the 36-year Civil War. This adhered with the 1996 Peace Accords. Census data does not tell us what portion of returning Sayaxche indigenous people were actually being monitored by the United Nations as per the 1996 Peace Accords. At this event pictured to the left below, Terrisita Casanova, the Melchor Mencos Mayor next door to the Camp met with Chiefs of the National Civil Police (PNC), Kaibil Soldiers from La Polvora Military Camp[1], and Captain Cohjonc then in charge of civilian affairs as they related to the Military. This reforestation program was inaugurated about the time Hurricane Mitch hit (November 1998). In fact, the rains from that storm helped the seedlings take root and survive until today. Needless to say the Military, which had been criticized from all sides gained a positive new image, showing what they could do in Guatemala’s future.  This historic Reforestation Project was bootstrapped  and undertaken with no funds.


[1] These are Elite Special Forces of the Guatemala Military who in the Civil War were the assassins. Samuel Bruce was accepted by these troops; this happened because Bruce went through their training courses between 1995 and 1999. La Polvara Military Camp is located between Melchor and Flores, at KM 88 and one of the BJ Institute reforestation sites is found close by. 

Guatemala military personnel could put forth almost unlimited hours of labor on preparing the turf, digging holes for seedlings, and planting the seedlings. Little by little from 1997 to 2001, this input to this Rain Forest Project made the Military look good and helped change its image. In 2004, we are pleased to report the Military was invited to participate in the Save the Laguna Del Tigre efforts in 2004 as noted below. But, Guatemala's Executive Secretary for the National Advisor on Protected Areas - Ana Luisa Noguera is deeply worried about the grave forestry losses. As CONAP Secretary, she said on 29 May 2005 that "No one enforces the Maya Biosphere Reserve as intended by the 1996 Peace Accords. After the 2003 elections, immense losses have occurred." Vinicio Montero, the Petén CONAP Regional Director blames the problems referred to by Secretary Noguera on "Citizens who burn the forest or settle within the bounds of the Biosphere Reserves and on drug traffickers intent on hiding. Many settlers within the protected areas farm, cut lumber and rob precious fauna found there."

To the left you see three agencies were recognized as leaders supporting the  “Save Laguna del Tigre Park initiative”: The Wildlife Protection Service (SEPRONA), the Guatemala Military and Natural Resources Guards (CONAP)  Foto Prensa Libre: Rigoberto Escobar (5-10-04

Projects undertaken by BJ Institute, the Military, local citizens and outside investors gave Petén Governor Regalado pleasure as it allowed local citizens to see how the 1996 Peace Accord functioned in Petén. He was even more pleased to see private investors return to his Office to consummate their investments. Moreover, it brought attention to forested lands outside the Maya Biosphere Reserve.  At La Zona Militar No. 23, the military believed relations with citizens in Petén had reached a new plateau all without having to pay for it. Working with the model BJ Institute forestry project, its personnel felt good as they got ego-involved in reforestry tasks, earned new reputations and positive returns evolved on a social basis right up through November 6, 2000.

Suddenly November 6, 2000, Mr. Bruce was faced with the “vote of troubled residents of New San Jose.” By their actions, the citizens took aim at work by BJ Institute. But they disrupted the good will of the Guatemala military, foreign investors and many citizens who had been given a chance to hold new jobs.

In 2003 and 2004, the Guatemala government, including the military, showed they benefited from their experience with the Model Reforestation Project. They were invited in February 2004 to take part in the Laguna del Tigre reforestry program, a sector of the Maya Biosphere Reserve in Northwest Guatemala.

The Maya Biosphere Reserve is found in Petén, Guatemala. The Las Guacamayas Biological Field Station lies within the buffer zone of the 1.6 million Hectare Maya Biosphere reserve in Petén’s northern region. The Biosphere Reserve includes five national parks, three biotopes and a multiple-use area – Laguna del Tigre and Tikal. In accord with the agreements set forth by the United Nations peace monitoring accord, cutting is controlled to keep properties found in the Maya Biosphere Reserve.

Vegetation found in the Biosphere Reserve: Subtropical semi-deciduous moist forest, savanna, wetlands.  High diversity: Flora: High diversity: over 3000 plant species in Maya Biosphere Reserve; distinct regional endemism; threatened species. Useful Plants: Timber species, fuel wood, fibers, fruits, medicinals; Maya Biosphere Reserve important for extraction of non-timber forest products: e.g. xate palm leaves, chicle, allspice.

 For information published by the United Nations regarding Guatemala Rain Forests and the Maya Biosphere Reserve, Click on A Few Supportive References

 If you wish to join a reforestation effort; to challenge coming generations to maintain forests rather than destroy them; or, to work with and support our efforts to produce a documentary on reforestation in a rain forest, please enter your name and email, then please click Submit Query so you may then prepare an email to that affect.

As of August 2006, dialoguemaker affiliates have a very limited involvement with the work referred to.

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