Last year, Sharing the Dream sponsored a successful reforestation project in Guatemala. We partnered with Bio-Itzá, a Guatemalan NGO that manages a tropical forest reserve in northern Guatemala. The Bio-Itzá forest reserve provides the vine used to make Maya Cross jewelry carried by our stores. This sustainable use of the forest provides income for local indigenous artisans and their community.
Like other tropical forests around the world, the Bio-Itzá forest reserve is under stress. Illegal poaching of valuable mahogany trees together with fires spreading from ever-expanding agricultural lands surrounding the reserve are taking a toll. In response to these concerns, we launched a fund-drive last year gathering donations as well as earmarking a portion of our Maya Cross jewelry sales for the project. Following a successful campaign, the much-needed funds were sent to Bio-Itzá and used to plant thousands of seedling trees in the forest reserve in November. This large effort was assisted by personnel provided by the Guatemalan Ministry of the Environment, the Military Reserves, and the local municipality of San José.
Once established, the young trees in the Bio-Itzá forest reserve will grow quickly in the tropical climate. The growing trees will store carbon, removed from the atmosphere, helping combat climate change. They will provide critical habitat for the myriad of plant and animal species living in the tropical forests including iconic species like the jaguar, howler monkey and scarlet macaw. The forests will also help sustain the Maya Cross vine which depends on large tropical trees for survival.
The connection between Bio-Itzá and Sharing the Dream was established by Dr. Craig Spencer, recently retired professor of Biology at Augustana University. Craig began teaching a tropical ecology course in Guatemala in 2006, working with Bio-Itzá and their forest reserve. Over the years, he helped develop the Maya Cross jewelry project. After trying to sell the jewelry out of his Augustana office he eventually connected with Diane Nesselhuf, and the rest is history! Craig currently serves on the Board of Directors of Sharing the Dream and enjoys volunteering in the Sioux Falls store.
You can support this important effort and help to reforest the Bio- Itzá forest by purchasing a wood item during the month of April, by purchasing a Maya Cross product all year long, or by making a donation to the reforestation efforts. You can also purchase the Maya Cross products wholesale. To order or learn more, email us at firstname.lastname@example.org
Sharing the Dream in Guatemala
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