In less than two decades, Guatemala has seen an astonishing 34 percent of its forests disappear. From 2002 to 2020, Guatemala lost 519,000 hectares of humid tropical forest cover or a decrease of 20 percent.
Agriculture is the biggest cause of deforestation; in fact, it’s one of the world’s worst environmental problems, with unsustainable farming practices taking the biggest toll. In 2020, the world lost 12.2 million hectares of tropical forest, releasing an amount of carbon dioxide equivalent to the annual emissions of 575 million cars. In Guatemala, lands are often cleared to make room for single-crop farms to keep up with the growing demand for things like cattle, sugarcane and palm oil as well as monocultures of coffee.
Many of these farms exist on steep slopes throughout the region. With land clearing, the soil erosion increases and the communities within are left more at risk of the devastating effects of heavy rain. In 2005, a hurricane swept through Central America devastating communities, including those in Guatemala. Without a lush forest of trees to slow the mud and landslides, many in the community lost their livelihoods, homes and, in some cases, loved ones.
Regenerating with Lush
In 2014, we began investing in regenerative projects and working with communities and farms to regenerate degraded land while producing ingredients for our products. In Izabal, one of the worst deforested areas of Guatemala, we invested in a former cattle ranch stretching across 223 hectares at the base of the forested mountain range.
With every regenerative project we take on, we have three goals in mind:
Since starting in Guatemala in 2016, we’ve been working to slowly turn the land back into the jungle it once was—a thriving, biodiverse area where fresh ingredients like cocoa, vanilla, avocado and coconut can be grown without unnatural chemicals, all while reversing the effects of deforestation. We rely only on organic methods of pest control, as well as natural fertilizers like agricultural charcoal that are made cleanly on site, using by-products from the farm.
The farm has also become an important employer in the area with fair wages, better working conditions and a place for women to make a living—something that’s historically been a struggle in the agriculture industry.
As the farm continues to mature, we’re working with 570 small-scale farmers, too. They’re each establishing their own plots using biodiverse farming methods, where we’ll offer a guaranteed price for specific ingredients they harvest. The focus is on mutually beneficial business partnerships, while empowering farmers to choose environmentally-sound farming over more destructive land uses. The planting systems also contain space for food crops and important native tree species.
We believe in giving back to the land, people and communities that we touch. Our goal is to partner with producer communities to create relationships that enable more trees in the ground and more money in the hands of producers. Every time you buy a Lush product, you’re also investing in a more just future.