Conservation is off to a good start, but expansion in this area is only beginning. Specifically in the Mexican region of the Mayan Forest, conservation efforts focus on the hopes to purchase an additional 212, 292 acres in the region. This large amount of forest would be added to the existing 370,000 protected forested acres of the Calakmul Biosphere Reserve, which consists of roughly 1.8 million total acres.
A primary motivation behind the conservation is to help combat global warming because of trees’ ability to absorb carbon dioxide. Arbor Day Foundation members’ contributions have helped purchase a total of nearly 600,000 acres of tropical forest, specifically of the Hopelchen Tract, where development of an Integrated Fire Management Plan to offset the threat of fires is underway. Within the plan, communities will be trained in agriculture practices that exclude the use of fire. Fire brigades are also being established to protect these areas if a fire were ever to burn out of control.
With support from the Foundation’s members, the Rain Forest Rescue program is also helping create economic incentives to community members in the Maya Forest region. This active pursuit of conservation-themed tourism encourages preservation of the land and creates economic sustainability. Recently, 14 youth of the Calakmul Biosphere were trained as nature guides through a challenging, 500-hour naturalist course. This training has helped instill appreciation for nature and the importance of environmental stewardship in Mayan youth at an early age. These young nature guides now provide a valuable service to visitors from around the world, and they are able to make nature an integral part of ancient civilization tours. Local communities are also pursuing and encouraging other programs like best forestry practices, education, and earth-friendly businesses.