From February 15 through 19, 2016, MAR Fund held its first staff strategic meeting in Antigua Guatemala. The technical and administrative persons from each of our four member funds participated. Eighteen people in total were gathered together during five hard-working days with the following objectives:
The most important results of the meeting were:
We are on the final stretch of this phase of the Project, and the four protected areas have developed most of their final activities. A very important challenge now is to coordinate and ensure that the main conservation activities continue after the Project is completed. The implementers are discussing this continuity with key stakeholders and NGOs that have the capacity to accomplish this.
In Yum Balam, Mexico, the institutional strengthening continued through capacity building for park rangers, resulting in an improvement on the development of their management skills. They also increased the number of demarcation and mooring buoys, protecting the coral reef patches and minimizing negative impacts from anchors. Three thousand 405 lobster shades were registered and 1,700 of these were mapped. Three community groups were legally established: Cooperativa Sirenas del mar, Organización de la Sociedad Civil Manaholchi and Organización de la Sociedad Civil Alma Verde Holbox. These groups now can request funds and have formally requested to be part of the protected area´s Advisory Committee. Twelve hotels were involved in good sustainable practices regarding waste management.
In Port Honduras Marine Reserve, Belize, the rock wall was completed for the protection of Abalone Caye, which hosts the field station of the organization. This, indirectly, also strengthened the control and surveillance program, since the station is the headquarters from which every patrol is organized and coordinated. The women group of Punta Negra, working in the cultural kitchen developed, received a close follow-up by a mentor, who supported with capacity building to strengthen and improve its results: better service – higher income. Nine community youths from Monkey River were trained as tour guides. TIDE began conversations with the Norweigan Cruise Company to employ these guides
Punta de Manabique Wildlife Refuge, in Guatemala, developed an innovative training course to strengthening skills for park rangers. It was imparted by the Andragogic Autonomous University of Miami. An activity called the Motagua Initiative was implemented to create a dialogue and discussion space to propose concrete solutions towards the management of the Motagua River and reduce the solid waste problem it has. The Motagua Forum was developed at the end of 2016 and gathered several organizations from the public sector and the organized civil society. The Management Plan has been finalized and submitted to the central office of the National Council of Protected Areas
In Sandy Bay West End Special Marine Protection Zone, Roatan, Honduras, the water quality monitoring program continued, which contributed to the sanitation plan. This plan began with a pilot project executed by the Polo’s Water Association jointly with the Bay Islands Conservation Association (BICA) and the Half Moon Water Board. The project included the repairing and equipment of the Water Treatment Plant. Since this pilot project went so well, a second phase was also implemented and this connected 31 properties into the sewage system. These two phases leveraged US$60,000 additional funds from the Coral Reef Alliance to connect 33 more properties in the system
The areas pf Phase II of the Project have implemented field activities for a year and a half now. Although the kick-off was a little slow, the implementers have progressed and have achieved important results to date.
The Manatee Sanctuary State Reserve, in Mexico, administrated by the Secretary of Ecology and Environment (SEMA), recently opened two internet centers for Raudales and Laguna Guerrero, two communities near the Mammal Rehabilitation Center (CARMA) – their headquarters. They have made an important alliance with El Colegio de la Frontera Sur (ECOSUR), a Mexican University, for the research and monitoring programs. They are also working together in monitoring activities with the Corozal Bay Wildlife Sanctuary, their neighbor Belizean protected area, with whom they share the Chetumal Bay. Finding the right partners to support with the implementation of key activities is a sustainability goal for the projects implementers. These two protected areas are coordinately tracking the displacements of Daniel, a rehabilitated manatee that swims from one area to the other.
In Corozal Bay Wildlife Sanctuary, Belize, the Sarteneja Alliance for Conservation and Development (SACD), co-manager of the area, purchased a piece of land to build their office, as they are currently working on a small rented building which does not meet the conditions of a basic office. To purchase the land, they signed a cooperation agreement with the Forest Department, administrator of the area. With this agreement, the protected area’s administrator is guaranteed to have a space within this new office. To strengthen their work as a co-administrator, two park rangers and eight community researchers were trained in engines repair and monitoring skills, respectively. As said before, they are working monitoring activities jointly with SEMA, in Mexico.
South Water Caye Marine Reserve in Belize, the other Belizean area targeted by the project, developed the erosion study for Twin Cayes, where their marine station is located. The result of the study recommends that a rock wall made with gabion baskets is the solution to stop the erosion. Although the recommendation is valid, an external expert also recommended to develop a wave study to understand the height of the rock wall. Meanwhile, the protected area is working with the community in its capacity building in scuba diving, tourism and coral reef restoration.
Río Sarstún Multiple Use Area, in Guatemala, co-managed by FUNDAECO, is supporting the Barra Sarstún community, within the protected area, with an economic alternative activity: a community restaurant. The people of the community are very happy and enthusiastic about this project. In order to strengthen the community participation in the management of natural resources FUNDAECO updated the Environmental Education Plan of the area and celebrated the ocean day (June 08), involving community members – children and elders.
Turtle Harbour/Rock Harbour Special Marine Protection Zone, managed by the Honduran NGO BICA–Utila, implemented the water quality and reef monitoring programs. They trained 26 people from different organizations that now support the monitoring exercises that the regional Healthy Reefs Initiative (HRI) does in Honduras. They monitored nine sites in Utila and their results will be included in the 2017 HRI report card. They continue to work on the eradication of lionfish by promoting derbies and the consumption of this species. BICA has done an extraordinary work promoting the recycling of glass bottles and its transformation into glasses. This activity is also supporting BICA’s sustainability as they are able to sell this glasses in restaurants and bars of the island.
The two protected areas of Guatemala, Punta de Manabique (Phase I) and Río Sarstún (Phase II), participated in the Diploma of Leadership and Entrepreneurship for Park Rangers, taught and certified by the Andragogic Autonomous University of Miami,, in order to strengthen teamwork, expand theoretical and practical knowledge, as well as their skills and abilities to carry out their work in the field.
The nine projects approved during the 7th RfP all finalized. Listed below you will find some of the preliminary results achieved by several of these projects to date:
A practical approach to long-term lionfish control: developing Belize’s national lionfish exploitation strategy; Fisheries Department, Belize.
Strengthening the network of fish refuges by involving youths in better fishing practices in the Gulf of Honduras; TRIGOH, Guatemala.
In Honduras, the Coastal Marine GEF Project is interested in replicating this project and incrementing youths participation.
Pilot project to restore the Guatemalan Caribbean corals: exploring the feasibility and its potential as a tool for management and conservation; FUNDAECO, Guatemala.
Promoting the integrated management of Laguna Guaymoreto Wildlife Refuge; FUCAGUA, Honduras.
Managing ecosystems and promoting economic alternatives in the fisheries recovery site of Paraiso Muchilena – PAMUCH; Cuerpos de Conservación de Omoa (CCO), Honduras
Degree in Participatory Management of Marine Protected Areas of the Mexican Caribbean; Moxviquil, Mexico.
All of the seven proposals recommended for approval by the Grants Review Committee were willing to adjust their projects to all the recommendations made. After signing the grant agreements with the member funds, the disbursements were made and the implementers began field activities.
Some of the preliminary results of some of the projects to date are:
Building the capacities of MPA partners and traditional fishers to monitor and steward marine megafauna in Honduras. Developed by MarAlliance
Two National Shark Advisory Committee (integrated by 11 organizations – authorities, academia and NGOs) meetings to establish monitoring collaborations have been undertaken
Consolidation of the General Register of Fishermen of four marine areas of Honduras. Developed by Centro de Estudios Marinos (CEM)
Economic valuation of the mangrove ecosystem for sustainable fisheries at three sites in Rio Sarstún Multiple Use Area (Cocolí, Buena Vista and Barra Sarstún) and the town of Livingston. Developed by FUNDAECO
Assessment and monitoring of hatchling and juvenile sea turtle ecosystems in Yum Balam. Developed by Pronatura Peninsula de Yucatan (PPY)
Once again, to support the projects approved during the 8th MAR Fund’s RfP, the Overbrook Foundation collaborated with US$25,000.
We are honored and grateful to continue having them on board, as one of the key partners that have helped us promote and support the conservation and sustainable use of natural resources in the MAR region.
Thanks again Overbrook Foundation!
During the 8th RfP, the Grants Review Committee recommended ten proposals for approval. However, due to the amount of funding available, only seven were supported.
L’Orangerie Foundation requested MAR Fund the list of the proposals that were not supported due to unavailability of funds. In October, 2016, they expressed interest in supporting the proposal Sustainable Management of the Coastal and Marine Resources of the Fisheries Restoration Area PAMUCH, Cuyamel-Omoa National Park, Honduras, submitted by Cuerpos de Conservación de Omoa – CCO. This is the fourth phase of this project. With the full involvement of authorities and civil society in the previous three stages, the official declaration of the first fishing recovery site within the protected area was achieved. In December, Fondation de L’Orangerie confirmed the donation for € 24,631.
The grant agreement was signed and the disbursement was made to CCO in February, 2017.
L’Orangerie Foundation has supported key projects in the region and we are very grateful with them!
On July 9th, 2016, the French Global Environment Facility, the Government of Germany through KfW, the Paul M. Angell Family Foundation and the Mesoamerican Reef Fund (MAR Fund) launched the 9th Request for Proposals (RfP).
The general objective of this RfP was to contribute to the conservation of the ecological functions of the Mesoamerican Reef System.
The three specific objectives were:
The deadline for submission of proposals was on September 16, 2016. By that date, 31 proposals were submitted distributed as follows: 15 from Mexico, three from Belize, eight from Guatemala and five from Honduras.
The Grants Review Committee met on January 26, 2017, and recommended nine proposals for approval of the Board of Directors, if they agreed with the recommendations made to them.
All of them agreed to the recommendations and the process of signing grant agreements and making the initial disbursements is currently on going.
The nine projects approved are:
We are thrilled to continue having the support from the Paul M. Angell Family Foundation. By mid-last year they confirmed the approval of a proposal submitted to them. This generous grant of US$40,000 increased the total funding available for the ninth request for proposals. This will support at least one of the approved projects.
Thank you Angell Foundation!
Improving Resilience through Coral Restoration in No-Take Areas, Phase II. Developed by OCEANUS.
The final results of the project are:
Expanding Managed Access into Corozal Bay Wildlife Sanctuary in Northern Belize. Sarteneja Alliance for Conservation and Development (SACD)
We are so excited to tell you that, thanks to the generous support of the German Government through the KfW, recovering damaged and degraded reefs in the region, through a concerted effort, is a tangible possibility.
The objective is to increase the resilience and ability to recover of the MAR and the environmental and cultural services it provides through capacity building, regulations, economic incentives and financial sustainability required for the effective and timely restoration of the coral reefs.
The two approaches the initiative will address are:
The general initiative strategies and results are:
The initiative will be developed by MAR Fund through three mechanisms: a) MAR Fund Investment Committee, b) Technical Project Committee (TPC), and c) Executing Unit.
In January 2017, Claudia Ruiz began working at MAR Fund as the Executing Unit’s Coordinator. She organized, prepared material and carried out the first TCP meeting in Chetumal, Mexico, from March 29 – 30. During the meeting, the TCP approved very important activities to be developed in 2017.
Stay tuned for more news regarding this innovative initiative!.
We are very happy to tell you that The Oak Foundation has chosen the MAR Fund as the recipient of its $10 million challenge grant to endow the Belize Marine Fund (BMF).
While the $10M gift is contingent on the MAR Fund raising an additional $15M, Oak will make $500K available for marine conservation annually for five years as the MAR Fund raises the matching funds. We welcome and will actively be seeking the support of other foundations, individuals, bi-lateral and multi-lateral agencies as we raise the required match.
Oak’s contribution adds to endowment support already granted to MAR Fund by the German Government through the KfW and the French Global Environment Fund (FFEM). MAR Fund acknowledges also the start-up support provided by WWF, who sparked this regional mechanism, The Summit Foundation -the angel investor who supported the organization’s beginning of operations- and all other donors that have kindly contributed to the conservation of this region.
We are honored by this gift and thankful for the confidence and trust that Oak has placed in us!
Angeline Valentine, former staff of the Oak Foundation, was hired as the MAR Fund’s Belize Marine Fund Officer.
Oak Foundation requested MAR Fund for a specific proposal to manage seven projects that several organizations are still running in the MAR region over the next 2-4 years. The donor requested that this initiative be handled from a central executing unit in the MAR Fund office.
Plans were drawn up for the operation of the Small Grants Program of the MAR Fund and the proposed mechanism for administering the seven projects.
The proposal document requested by Oak was sent for the administration of these projects, for a total amount of US $ 2 Million for up to four years. Oak Foundation approved the “re-granting” proposal and the charter was signed on August 22, 2016. Cynthia Pérez was hired as MAR Fund’s Re-granting Officer.
The grantees of this re-granting are HRI, ELAW and CEM, which are regional initiatives; and CoBi (Mex), SEA, TIDE and SACD (Bez). Only HRI has begun field activities, the other initiatives are still under revision, but almost ready to begin.
Again, we are very grateful to Oak Foundation’s confidence!.
BothENDS, a dutch organization that is focused on strengthening grassroots organizations around sustainable solutions for environmental and poverty issues, contacted MAR Fund last year to work together in Guatemala and Honduras through the initiative Global Alliance for Green and Gender Action – GAGGA. GAGGA is an association that supports local partnerships on issues of environmental justice and women’s rights.
The proposal was approved for US$50,000.
On October 28, MAR Fund launched the request for proposals Support and strengthening of women’s groups in initiatives for climate change adaptation and environmental justice in the Mesoamerican Reef (Honduras and Guatemala).
Eleven proposals were received and evaluated by an ad hoc committee. Of these, seven were approved, three from Honduras and four from Guatemala. They have all signed grant agreements and are currently under implementation.
MAR Fund submitted a proposal to support women rights through actions for climate change adaptation in communities of priority protected areas in Honduras and Guatemala.
The approve projects are:
Another grant for US$50,000 was also made by GAGGA to Tierra Viva, a Honduran NGO. They launched another request for proposals and are supporting ten additional projects. The entire grant of US$100,000 is administrated by MAR Fund.
The third workshop of the Connectivity Network was undertaken in Cancun, Mexico, from July 12 – 13, 2016. Twenty-one persons participated on the workshop, and 11 protected areas of the MAR were represented.
During the meeting, the Organizing Committee of the network presented a summary of all activities done by them and the network since its inception in 2010. They also presented the main results of the first four connectivity exercises (ECOME) done simultaneously within the region, including biological and biophysical aspects.
The protected areas presented the results, benefits and challenges that the connectivity exercises done to date have represented for them, and also talked about the future vision towards these exercises. It was very rewarding to see that all of the areas are pleased with the information that the exercises have provided them, and are willing to continue participating in them.
As a result of this, the date for the fifth ECOME was schedule for August 29 – September 06, and 11 areas signed in to participate which were:
The results of the five exercises are being consolidated in a single report and will shortly be shared and disseminated.
During the week of July 25 – 29, Lydia Andler, Regional Director of KfW for El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, BCIE and the Caribbean, Mr. Thomas Cieslick, Chief of Cooperation of the German Embassy in Belize and Guatemala, and Mr. Manuel Lorenzana, Local Representative of KfW in Guatemala, made a field visit to Port Honduras Marine Reserve, in Belize, and Río Sartsún Multiple Use Area and Punta de Manabique Wildlife Refuge, in Guatemala.
The objective of the visit was to meet the key actors and the programs/activities supported with the Project Conservation of Marine Resources in Central America.
During the visit, several sites where funds from the Project have been invested were visited. In addition, meetings with the operative staff of TIDE, FUNDAECO-Amantes de la Tierra and CONAP were held to learn their experience directly from them.
Besides learning of the progress of the Project, the trip was useful to confirm the assistance of Mrs. Andler, as speaker, to the Blue Economy Panel that was developed during the Donors Forum of the Seattle International Foundation in September, 2016.
Since March, 2016, conversations were held between the directors of The Summit Foundation and the Seattle International Foundation (SIF) with MAR Fund to discuss the donor forum that SIF has been implementing for the last four years for Central America. These events bring together more than 200 leaders from different sectors: private, philanthropic, media, government and civil society to discuss priority issues for the region, learn about successful development models, meet leaders working in the region and explore co-investment for impact in Central America. As a result of these discussions, SIF decided to include the environment in the agenda of the Central American Donors Forum 2016.
The specific topic chosen was blue economy and adaptation to climate change, to be presented through a panel organized by MAR Fund.
From September 28 – 30, the Fifth Central American Donors Forum was held in Antigua Guatemala, which included the panel on blue economy and adaptation to climate change. The following participated as panelists: Lydia Andler, KfW; Steve Box, Smithsonian Institution; Luis Bourillon, Marine Stewardship Council and Lorenzo Rosenzweig, FMCN / RedLAC / MAR Fund. María José Gonzalez was the moderator.
We are so glad to inform you that the Caribbean Biodiversity Fund, the Pacífico Platform and the MAR Fund, signed a Memorandum of Understanding for the Caribbean – Pacific Alliance for Finances of Marine Conservation.
The official launch of the Alliance was made during the RedLAC Annual Assembly held in Brazil, in November, 2016.
The three organizations are currently developing a mentoring project financed by the Project K of RedLAC, which will enable them to successfully bring more financial resources for marine protected areas in Central America and the Caribbean.
In the month of July, 2016, the first meeting to organize, originally three, side events for the 13th Conference of the Parties of Biodiversity – COP13, took place in Cancun, Mexico.
The participating organizations were the MAR Leadership Program, the Healthy Reefs Initiative and the MAR Fund. Jose Luis Funes, at that time Delegate of the Secretariat of Environment and Natural Resources (SEMARNAT) in Quintana Roo, also participated in the meeting.
During this meeting, three side events that had been discussed were planned: 1) Dinner / tasting for people who would participate in the high level event of the first days of the COP, 2) Internal side event (in the COP 13 security area), and 3) External side event.
As a result of good coordination, two side events were held under the name Securing Wellbeing in the Mesoamerican Reef through the Blue Economy. These events were held on December 5 and 6 at the Cancun Convention Center and the Moon Palace Hotel (COP headquarters), respectively. On December 5, 70 people were present and on the 06, 60. José Luis Funes participated in his new role as General Director of Wildlife of SEMARNAT, who opened and closed the events.
Both events began with the video “Blue Heart”. Gina De Ferrari, a member of MAR Fund Board of Directors, made the introduction and spoke about the progress in the region since the signing of the Tulum Agreement in 1997. She proposed the blue economy approach to the future, where effective protection and sustainable use of “blue” resources can be the pillars for rural and urban development in the four countries. There were also presentations on the three regional initiatives: HRI, MAR Leadership and MAR Fund.
The event of December 5 was detailed and counted with the participation of what was called “Voices from the field”. Presentations were made by Celia Mahung (Belize), Gabriela Nava (Mexico), Ian Drysdale (Honduras) and Ana Giró (Guatemala). María del Carmen García, from CONANP, made a presentation on marine protected areas as the basis for a blue economy in Quintana Roo.
Lorenzo Rosenzweig, MAR Fund’s Chairman, spoke about the twentieth anniversary of the Tulum Declaration in 2017 as an opportunity to ratify collaboration on conservation and sustainable use of resources among the four countries that share the region. He launched a petition to raise 1 million signatures to urge the heads of state of the four countries to ratify the Tulum Declaration in 2017 and commit to taking the following actions necessary for a healthy reef in the future:
Before launching this petition, the Ministries of Environment of the four countries were given a heads-up of the initiative.
After long discussions and very hard work, the petition was launched on March 10, 2107, for being the day of the Mesoamerican Reef. It was posted on the web page of the MAR Leadership Program, MAR Fund, Fondo Mexicano and other several environmental partners.
From December 8 – 13, Constance Corbier-Barthaux, Biodiversity Officer of the Secretariat of the French Global Environment Facility (FFEM) of the French Development Agency, visited several projects that were financed through the MAR Fund’s Small Grants Program.
The first project to be addressed in Mexico, in Cozumel, was the Sustainable Lobster Project, implemented by the NGO RAZONATURA. It had two consecutive grants, during the second and third request for proposals. These were developed between 2009 and 2011.
The second project was the Shark Conservation and Monitoring Project, implemented by the NGO Comunidad y Biodiversidad (CoBi). This was financed during the sixth request for proposals, developed between 2014 and 2015. The third and last project in Mexico, was the Fish Replenishment Site Project. This was supported during the fourth request for proposals between 2012 and 2013. This projects were not exactly visited, however, a meeting with Stuart Fullton, CoBi’s Marine Reserve Coordinator, who kindly explained how these two projects were developed. He is perfectly aware of the current situation of the replenishment zones in the Mexican Caribbean.
The first project to be addressed in Guatemala was the Community Strengthening Project. This was supported during the seventh request for proposals, developed between 2015 and 2016. They had recently finished its implementation. The project was developed in two protected areas: Rio Sarstun Multiple Use Area in Guatemala, and Sarstoon Temash National Park in Belize.
The Fish Replenishment Sites Project was the second one visited in Guatemala and was implemented during 2013 and 2014, supported through the fifth request for proposals. This had follow-up support through the Summit Foundation. Staff from FUNDAECO explained the ´project during the field visit.
The last project visited was in Honduras and it was supported during three consecutive requests for proposals: 5th, 6th and 7th. It was developed between 2013 and 2016. The project established the first fish recovery site in the Cuyamel Omoa National Park. The fourth phase of this initiative has recently began and it is focusing in the coordinated control and surveillance efforts and the support of alternative economic activities for the communities that have been involved since the beginning.