Akazul is a UK registered not-for-profit Community Interest Company. Registration No. 07411520  © 2011

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The work of Akazul is based in the small coastal village of La Barrona, Jutiapa, situated on the Guatemalan Pacific Coast, 6km West of the El Salvador border. La Barrona was selected by Akazul not only due to the success of our previous conservation work carried out here, but also for the welcoming spirit and openness of the community members.

The 8.5km of typical black volcanic sand beach at La Barrona provides an important nesting ground for the Olive Ridley (Lepidochelys olivacea) and Leatherback (Dermochelys coriacea) sea turtles. Northeast of the village is an extensive mangrove network which projects into the next municipality of Santa Rosa. These contrasting ecosystems are inextricably linked, with important functions for the coexistence of the local biodiversity and for the people of La Barrona.

There are approximately 900 inhabitants in the isolated fishing village and surrounding area of La Barrona. Families are generally large and live in small simple stick or block houses with palm thatching. The local primary school accommodates around 60 children up to the age of 11 and the secondary school is approximately 6 km away.



The inhabitants rely heavily upon the use of local natural resources as their primary food source and for vital income generation. The majority of income stems from fishing, mangrove utilisation and through the legal collection and sale of turtle eggs during the Olive Ridley nesting season from July to December. The relatively few other forms of income in the area are typically low producing primary goods, such as milk, chickens and eggs, which are sold within the community or at nearby markets.

The high level of dependency on the local natural resources, coupled with population growth, economic need and a lack of an effective management plan are placing increasing pressure on La Barrona’s natural environment, with over-exploitation of many resources becoming widespread.  In order to secure a successful future for both the people and the environment of La Barrona, it is vital that a balance can be found between the needs of the community, and the survival of local ecosystems.

Home Conservation Ecology Get Involved Sponsor a Nest Team

We believe that greater community involvement and ownership in conservation issues is the key for long lasting change. One way this is being demonstrated is through the Akazul Sea Turtle Stewardship Program. This program involves local community members in sea turtle monitoring and conservation activities by utilising a team of the most conscientious local egg collectors to help improve the donation system in the area. The stewards patrol the beach for up to 8 hours each night, talking to other egg harvesters, gathering nesting information and receiving donations of 20%.  The Sea Turtle Stewards all work on a completely voluntary basis. This project is the first of its kind in Guatemala and marks an important milestone in ‘community-based’ sea turtle conservation. The team’s involvement with the project has helped greatly increase collaboration levels, improve hatchery productivity and raise awareness of sea turtle conservation. We sincerely thank and congratulate all of the team for their hard work and commitment to saving sea turtles.


The team are made up of the following individuals. Leonel Hernandez, Miguel Hernandez, Maynor Ramos, Melvin Monterroso, Arturo Melendriz, Tito Perez and Jorge Ramos.

The local passion for football was seen by Akazul as a useful entranceway to working with an important target group, as way of offering young community members the opportunity to get involved with an enjoyable organised activity and at the same time increase awareness for the need of sea turtle conservation. In August 2011, Akazul established a youth football team, comprised of 22 boys aged between 10 and 14. The majority of these children are sons of egg collectors, and many also partake in egg harvesting activities themselves. Football training sessions are held bi-weekly, with organised matches with other local teams. Donations were used to equip the team with Akazul uniforms, football boots and training equipment. The football activities are run alongside a weekly marine education program, which focuses on providing sea turtle education and other important local conservation issues, for these young community members.

Once a week, Akazul provides an afternoon of activities for children aged 5-10, including story-telling, art projects and games through the Kids Activity Club. Both adult and children’s English Classes are taught every week at the Akazul building. Akazul have also been working with local women through Jewellery Making Workshops and other capacity building programs and are supporting the La Barrona Lifeguard Group. Small scale eco-tourism activities such as Mangrove and Fishing Trips, Hammock Making Lessons, Meal Provision and a Volunteer Homestay Program are helping to provide new sources of income for community members. These activities are helping to address wider social and economic issues and demonstrate the commitment of Akazul, not only in tackling local environmental issues but to the local community as a whole.

Geography
Village and People
Sustainability Issues
Community Projects and Initiatives
Sea Turtle Stewardship Program
Saving Turtles through Football
Other Community Based Activities