Totonicapán is a Mayan (97% indigenous Mayan K'iche) department in the heart of the Sierra Madre mountains Guatemala averaging 2700m (9,000ft) in elevation. It borders Sololá to the west and Quiché to the east. Totonicapán is a densely populated department with 48 Cantones or small rural villages. It is also the department with the highest percentage of forest cover with extensive oak-pine forests, fir and cypress stands. These self-contradicting facts belie Totonicapán’s incredible capacity as a community to protect their natural resources and community forest. The Communal Forest of Totonicapán represents the largest and most well-preserved coniferous forest in all of Central America and has been communally managed and conserved to the present-day without much outside influence nor interference.* The forest houses over 1,200 springs which are the headwaters for five of Guatemala’s major rivers (Samalá, Chixoy, Nahualate, Motagua, and Quiscab which drains into Lake Atitlan). An interesting fact is that the first successful uprising against Spanish colonialists which subsequently led to…

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