Guatemala’s palm oil industry is growing—and fast. Landscapes that were once covered with cotton and sugar are now ripe with oil palm. Yet agricultural expansion often comes at the expense of critical ecosystems, many of which provide habitat for endangered species and freshwater for local communities. In some cases, rivers and streams carry agricultural run-off all the way to the Mesoamerican Reef—the largest transnational reef in the world—threatening the region and the species that live there.
WWF is working with the palm oil industry to promote sustainable agriculture practices so companies can minimize environmental risks as they look to expand their activities, reduce operating costs and increase top-line benefits. In fact, sustainable operations have helped Guatemalan palm oil company, Agrocaribe, reduce environmental degradation, improve effluent management and increase food security, proving that when operations are sustainably managed, they can improve production and preserve local resources.
Since implementing sustainable practices, Agrocaribe has become the first identity preserved company in Central America and the fourth in the world to become certified by the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO). WWF worked closely with Agrocaribe for two years, assisting them in their pursuit of RSPO certification. “Agrocaribe has not reached this point over night. It has taken quite some time,” explained José Vásquez, Agriculture and Aquaculture Program Manager for WWF Mesoamerican Reef. “We as WWF are happy with the work they have done and for achieving the certification. To us, this means they are doing things right.”