What impact have you had on your clients and the tourism sector?
Tourism activities have increased the incentive to conserve the ecosystem of Tul through repopulation. These activities are mainly: 1) tourist tour to learn about the species in the ecosystem: the waterfowl that have their habitat within the town of Tul and fishing, 2) the production of handicrafts tul, which are an attraction for tourists, through a project to design innovation, 3) the repopulation of the ecosystem of tul caught the attention of national and international media, which have conducted interviews, documentaries and soon an exhibition, which has drawn tourists to come and visit the areas.
To realize the service has been organized Chupup Chajil Association ("Guardians of Tul" in Spanish) who are responsible for organizing and providing tourist services related to Tul. Moreover, this association is responsible for the protection, conservation and rescue of the Tul on the beaches that are within the municipality of San Juan La Laguna. Ati't Ala 'works closely with this partnership and with other associations around the lake.
On the other hand, they have organized a recruitment of volunteers, approximately 750 people during the months of September to November of 2010, including many tourists. It has also promoted a media campaign at national and international volunteering for the rescue of Lake Atitla.
We have developed a study that determined that the Tul is a natural agent capable of filtering pollutants from the soil, has great ability to compete with the cyanobacteria by phosphorus and nitrogen and is natural habitat for fish, crustaceans and local and migratory waterfowl.
With this knowledge have been organized in coordination with other local organizations and government, more than 10 days of repopulation of tul on the banks of the lake, this translates to approximately 15,000 net sown plants in places where the ecosystem ran the risk of disappearing. These workshops were made possible through the work of volunteers, including many tourists and citizens of other departments, but especially local population. One of the first benefits observed with the repopulation of tul is to protect habitat for fish, shellfish and waterfowl, on the other hand, the attention and awareness created in tourists visiting the area.
We hope for 2011 to:
1) Develop a visitor center for Chajil Chupup, including educational materials on the net ecosystem;
2) Develop and market craft tul particularly aimed at the tourist population;
3) Participate in a national exhibition to raise awareness about water issues in Guatemala, focusing our efforts to keep the tul;
4) A campaign of reforestation of about 3,000 plants Tul, including:
• 6 municipalities of planting;
• An estimated 6 local groups organized for planting;
• A campaign volunteer with an estimated 150 people;
• Income generation time 160 people by the activities of planting and harvesting of seed and stone;
5) Develop an education campaign aimed at children and adults about the importance of this ecosystem;
What will it take for your project to be successful over the next three years? Please address each year separately, if possible.
The success of this project lies in the ownership of local people in conservation and protection of the population of tul. To make this possible it requires a level of organization by the population, the recognition of this organization by local authorities and the regulated operation of recognized standards for the population of the lake.
Success also rests on the participation of volunteers who do not inhabit the area, between tourists and local visitors. It is therefore necessary to promote volunteer days at the time of year to become a tradition for the conservation of Lake Atitlan.
Interagency coordination is necessary to include NGOs, decentralized state sector and environmental authorities, to join or support the restocking of tul. So far this coordination has been effective.
Participation of international cooperation and involvement of the private business sector with commercial and economic interests in the area is also very important.
All this requires a promoter or facilitator of the process, for that matter, Ati't Wing 'has been positioned as such so far. During the process we realized the importance of working with young people and children and we believe that activities such as environmental education would support the success of the initiative. These activities require social financing and interest of the rescue of Lake Atitlan.
What would prevent your project from being a success?
During this experience, we found that one of the most important dangers is the variability. Hearty winter this year, has raised the water level in at least two meters high, in addition to productive land floods of the river, water has submerged the town of Tul. The submergence of newly planted plants did not survive, as the plants, although water, need to hold in the ground and process oxygen. In addition to the water was no wind that similarly affected the population of newly planted tul.
Another "danger" is the need for leadership of some organizations, which does not allow adequate coordination with regard to the recruitment of tul. In addition, environmental authorities bureaucracy and slow political action are also a threat. This has led the plantings to be mande out of season, which has exacerbated the adaptability of the plants.
Finally, there are many factors that affect tourism around the lake: the global economy, insecurity in Guatemala and other factors contributing to the cyanobacteria prevail, as the inefficiency of the wastewater plants, the use of phosphate-rich fertilizer and laundry detergents. With a drop in tourism, we would not have a strong market for the visitor center, selling crafts and volunteer participation.