There is a need to actively involve local people in the sustainable development and management of climate change and forestry mitigation projects, and to participate fairly in the potential positive effects not only as a major moral responsibility but also through be essential to the long-term success of the project.
Without the collaboration of the people living in and of the forest, it is not possible to protect it in a lasting way. Experience from previous forest protection projects has shown that when the local population identifies with the project it is easier to achieve the objectives in a sustainable way. On the contrary, opposition from the local population can quickly lead to conflicts that jeopardize the objectives of forest protection and climate change.
The Sierra del Lacandón National Park area was already populated in parts before it was declared a protected area in 1990. The population of these settlements, therefore, has the right to continue living in the region and to be involved in measures that are taken. One of the main objectives of the project is that it has positive effects for the local population, which also ensures long – lasting protection of the forest and the long – term success of the Lacandón – Bosques para la vida project.
Communities are involved in a variety of ways: The basis of cooperation with communities is the cooperation agreements signed between the inhabitants and the National Council of Protected Areas (CONAP), according to which communities retain the rights to exploit their lands inside the park. In return, they commit themselves to actively contribute to the protection of the forest and to exploit its resources sustainably. In addition, a system of incentives, consisting of a mix of cash payments and aid in the form of material (eg seedlings, tools and other inputs), as well as technical advice, will be developed. Areas of reforestation and regeneration will be created, whose sustainable exploitation will mean new sources of income for the people (Local Alternatives).
To promote the implementation of these economic activities as an alternative to extensive cultivation and marketing, a microcredit system will be created throughout the project. Participants in the project of the different communities will form local groups that will receive training courses within the framework of the project, which will allow them in the future to participate actively in the development and implementation of the project.
It is very important that transparent and open communication be established in all activities and that a regular exchange with the communities residing in the park be carried out.