Archive for July, 2010

FFI’s: Focus On The Ceiba Tree

Article extracted from FFI

The ceiba tree (Ceiba pentandra) is one of the largest trees in Belize’s Golden Stream Watershed ecosystem. Though not listed on the IUCN Red List, it is a vital component of the ecosystem and has an iconic status in the region’s communities.

Fauna & Flora International (FFI) is working with the grassroots organisation Ya’axché Conservation Trust to protect the ceiba’s forest habitat by working with local people. The habitat is home to jaguar, tapir and many other threatened species.

Learn more about our work to save the ceiba tree’s habitat.

Ceiba tree quick facts

  • Grows to 60-70 m (200-230 ft)
  • Has a straight, largely branchless trunk that culminates in a huge, spreading canopy, and buttress roots that can be taller than a grown person
  • Its deep roots mean it’s often one of the few trees left standing after a hurricane.
  • Plays an important ecological role, supplying shade, nectar, fruit and many other necessities for wildlife
  • In traditional Mayan culture, the ceiba tree represents the link between the underworld and the heavens because it’s so tall
  • The ceiba tree’s branches were believed by Mayans to act as a seat from which the gods watched the people walking below

 IYB Issue: Cultural connections

  • The ceiba tree’s strong cultural ties to Mayan culture has proven invaluable for FFI’s partner Ya’axché Conservation Trust. The communities in and around the Golden Stream Watershed are mostly Mayan. In choosing the ceiba tree for its name and logo (Ya’axché means ceiba tree in the Mopan Mayan language), Ya’axché is highlighting its focus on locally-driven solutions to conservation problems.  
  • Identifying the local cultural value of species can help garner community support for wider habitat protection. Humans are not separate from nature. The more we identify ways to strengthen the link between conservation and society, the more we have a chance of saving the planet’s biodiversity.

“The Ceiba tree stands tall and strong just like Ya’axché which together with FFI is proactively protecting more than 300,000 acres of the Maya Golden Landscape habitat that links the Maya Mountains to the Belize Barrier Reef.”
Lisel Alamilla, Ya’axché Conservation Trust

How You Can Help

Eat more chocolate! Well.. eat more Green and Black’s Maya Gold chocolate to be exact. A significant percentage of chocolate beans that go into it come from farmers that FFI and Ya’axché have supported around the Golden Stream Watershed area. 

Growing cacao under the rainforest canopy is much better for the forest and earns them more income than their previous slash-and-burn subsistence farming.

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