Martha Julia Tax Sapon

Environmental Engineer of the Rural University of Guatemala
Specialist of Management of Protected Areas and Development of Sustainable Tourism of the Colorado State University, USA

Martha Julia Tax is Maya Kiche, descendent of the Maya people of Guatemala. She worked for 18 years with small communities and municipalities, members of the Model Forest of Los Altos (BMLA) in the volcanic chain of the Western Highlands of Guatemala. She works for the Swiss Association for Cooperation and Development HELVETAS Swiss Intercooperation in Guatemala. She is specialist in the sustainable forest management of communal and municipal forests, collective management of natural resources and strengthening of capacities for participatory management and political advocacy of indigenous and rural peoples, women and youth. She is an active member of the MESAFORC Regional Forestry Coordinating Table of Region VI of Guatemala, the National Table of Forest Landscape Restoration and the Western South Climate Change Network.

Within her professional career, she has worked directly with indigenous leaders, women’s and youth groups for the recovery of ancestral knowledge and customary rights for traditional forest management. She also with work with municipal authorities, state agencies, looking for the recognition of the collective rights of the people. Other important actions where she has been involved: the potentiation of natural resources for the diversification of their use and the generation of employments and incomes for the communities surrounding the forests from microentrepreneurship. Among the actions promoted are: companies producing forest seeds, community tourism (lodging, restaurants, tourist guides, handicrafts), Xate production, furniture, honey, bottled water production, among others.

She is currently leading the Conservation for Sustainable Development project in Quetzaltenango: Governance, Community Tourism and Collective Action “Uk’uch Ixcanul -Corazón del Volcán”, with local partners FUNDAP, INTECAP and MESAFORC. This project focuses in the Model Forest of Los Altos and its objective is to conserve water recharge zones of high ecological value. She is involved in the potentiation of community tourism through the Volcanic Tourist Route and the strengthening of good governance through the participation of the various actors in the area of intervention.