Mesoamerica’s five greatest forests are home to more than 7.5 percent of the planet’s biodiversity, such as the jaguar and the endangered Baird’s tapir. In an effort to ensure the protection of these lush wildlife habitats, NGOs, together with national governments and local communities, have recently partnered up to launch the Five Great Forests Initiative.
The partnership aims to protect the largest forests in Mesoamerica: the Maya Forest in Mexico, Guatemala, and Belize; Moskitia in Nicaragua and Honduras; Indio Maíz-Tortuguero in Nicaragua and Costa Rica; Talamanca Region in Costa Rica and Panama; and the Darien in Panama and Colombia.
Together, the forests span more than 120,000 km2 and serve as a vital environmental resource. The five forests hold approximately 50% of the forest carbon in the region and provide valuable ecosystem services, such as clean water, clean air, food security, and climate stability to more than 5 million people.
Through the Five Great Forests Initiative, the collaborating partners are committing to addressing the drivers of deforestation; improving forest governance by strengthening the management of protected areas, community forests, and Indigenous territories; and improving livelihoods with forest-friendly and climate-resilient economic alternatives.
Over the next 10 years, the aim is to ensure that: no wildlife species in the great forests go extinct; 10 million hectares of land are protected; 500,000 hectares of forest are restored; and illegal cattle ranching within the boundaries of the five forests ceases entirely.