In celebration of the International Year of Forests, each month we are highlighting those individuals, communities and businesses actively safeguarding the lungs of the planet.
The giant oak and fern trees on Georges and Lili Duriaux- Chavarría’s 260-acre (120-hectare) property in northern Jinotega, Nicaragua, date back to Jurassic times. The trees shelter rare and declining bird species such as the three-wattled bellbird and the golden-winged warbler, a migratory songbird that spends northern winter months in Central and South America. The couple bought the land from Lili Chavarría‘s brother 18 years ago with the intention of protecting its rich biodiversity. Today, the El Jaguar Private Wildlife Reserve and Organic Farm produces coffee, hosts ecotourists and serves as an international centre for wildlife research.
“We realised that in order to conserve our land, we needed to earn income from it,” explains Duriaux. “I had experience with organic coffee production, so we decided to start an organic farm at El Jaguar. My wife is fascinated by ornithology and has always been a nature lover. So everything fell into place – we grew coffee and were lucky to have a lot of birds on the reserve.” The farm, which is designated an Important Bird Area by BirdLife International, provides habitat for 285 bird species, including seven endangered species, three endemic species and 17 species with reduced populations.
Travellers planning a trip to Latin America or the Caribbean can find El Jaguar on the Rainforest Alliance’s SustainableTrip.org website, a searchable online database of hotels, lodges, B&Bs, resorts and tour operations that have been certified by a third-party sustainable tourism certification programme, verified by the Rainforest Alliance or recommended as being sustainable by a reputable organisation.