Strategic Land Purchases Establish New Cerro Amay-Chimel Cloud Forest Preserve

Alyssa Wiltse-Ahmad

Dec 6, 2017

NewsProtected Areas

Throughout 2017, Rainforest Trust has helped its local partner Fundación para el Ecodesarrollo y la Conservación (FUNDAECO) purchase six properties totaling 995 acres to establish the Cerro Amay-Chimel Cloud Forest Preserve in Guatemala. Together, Rainforest Trust and FUNDAECO are strategically purchasing properties that can connect the entire network for a corridor of protection.

  • Photo by FUNDAECO.

The Cerro Amay Cloud Forest is among the largest areas of intact forest left in Central America. Tropical montane cloud forest sits atop a limestone plateau pock-marked with an estimated 5,000 caves, providing a spectacular and biodiverse refuge for native wildlife and flora. The Critically Endangered Guatemala Spikethumb Frog is a cloud forest native that is likely to disappear entirely if action is not taken to save its habitat. Mammals within the preserve include the Endangered Yucatan Black Howler Monkey, Endangered Geoffroy’s Spider Monkey and Jaguar. Several salamanders new to science have also been discovered in this region. The high cloud forest is dominated by massive oaks covered with orchids, bromeliads, strangler figs, bryophytes and ferns. The dense understory contains a fabulous variety of species, while mid-elevation trees are highly diverse and include the Endangered Guatemalan Walnut (Juglans olanchana).

  • A Critically Endangered Guatemala Spikethumb Frog. Photo by Josiah H. Townsend.

New road development and logging are the principal threats in the region. Since protection efforts began in the area in 2008, extensive road building and deforestation have occurred near the Cerro Amay Cloud Forest. While no logging permits or forest management plans exist for the area, loggers continue to extract cloud forest oaks at an estimated rate of three to four truckloads per week on the main access road. Rainforest Trust-funded purchases in the Cerro Amay Forest will halt further road building and logging. These land purchases support the goal of establishing a new protected area that cements the protection of the Amay cloud forest while attracting researchers, promoting ecotourism and implementing sustainability initiatives in the indigenous villages surrounding the Cerro.

With the generous support of our friends around the world and the SAVES Challenge, this project is a success. A special thank you to Harvey and Heidi Bookman for their leadership gift.

For more information on how you can support Rainforest Trust, visit our Conservation Action Fund.