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Student Reflections

Guatemalan Community Forestry:
Saving the Environment, Improving Regional Security

Distinguished Guest Lecturer: Marcedonio Cortave
Association of Petén’s Forest Communities

Thank You Sponsors:
College of Liberal Arts, ACOFOP, Departments of Geography, English, Sociology, Political Science, & the Center for Gender and Diversity Studies


cortave speech
Alberto Giordano, Geography Chair; Marcedonio Cortave, Executive Director ACOFOP, Jennifer Devine, Asst. Professor Geography
Photo by Graciela Sandoval


“Thank you [Marcedonio Cortave] for taking the time to come and speak at Texas State University. I have a lot of respect for your work and first hand struggles. Over the course of the semester you and Dr. Devine have inspired me to explore the relationships existing between communities and nature. In order to help maintain the natural world our humanity must play an integral role in the process, because nature cannot sustainably be managed by a business model. Community forestry allows for women, children, men and elders to create dynamic relationships with the forest. This results in positive changes that open forests to multipurpose functions that may have previously been left behind. The responsibility of maintaining the Earth teaches communities that the land is an extension of oneself - that we are an integral part of nature, born from seed and flower, growing to reproductive maturity, and rearing the next generation before passing back into the life cycle. Working in the field of environmentalism takes true passion and grit. The struggle between civilization and our natural environment seems endless, but all things are impermanent. I commend you as a community leader and know you will continue to inspire others as you have inspired me.”
Carolyn Kauth
Political Geography 3340

“It was interesting to hear him [Cortave] speak about FORESCOM and how they work to increase the value of forest products…I also appreciated his discussion of the other myriad benefits to the community provided by ACOFOP and its associated organizations: technical training skills to local residents (including women!), scholarships, school supplies, and the ability for residents to work locally instead of traveling to a job.”
Lacey Smith
Graduate Assistant, Geography

“Listening to Marcedonio Cortave’s awards and achievements made me realize how much of an inspiration he really is to society - the way he cares for his country's environment and natural state of being is amazing…He made it clear that without the proper care and protection for the lands, it would be hard to maintain and allow them to continue to flourish otherwise.”
Bailey W.
Student, Political Geography 3340


cortavie speech
“Defending the Forests with our Lives”   
Photo by Graciela Sandoval


“What ACOFOP is doing in Guatemala to preserve the Mayan Biosphere is amazing and inspiring. I was deeply moved, with a mix of emotions from anger and sadness to excitement for the future of our environment…Marcedonio Cortave is an extraordinary and inspiring man, the world would greatly benefit if there were more people like him.”
Efrain Cantu
Student, Political Geography 3340

“The threat that the community forest concessions may not be allowed to renew and stay is absolutely awful. It infuriates me that the corruption runs so deep that, even with hard evidence, the government still turns a blind eye to the reality of what is going on. I commend Marcedonio’s bravery and all those who are working to support ACOFOP. I hope to contribute my granito [grain of sand] to this cause.”
LeeAnn Cardwell
Student, Political Geography 3340

“Don Macedonio’s talk was inspiring because he talked with such passion and professionalism that showed a genuine care for the communities and what they do…he was blunt about ACOFOP’s obstacles that hinder their advancement, such as the timber trafficking activities, narco-cattle ranching, the archeologist Dr. Hansen, and the government of Guatemala.”
Yoli Fierro Ulloa
Student, Political Geography 3340


texas state sign cortave
Marcedonio Cortave, ACOFOP; Dr. Jennifer Devine, Texas State University Department of Geography  
Photo by Graciela Sandoval


“I will forever remember Don Macedonio and the extensive love he has towards his country. Moreover I will always keep in mind the amount of help we can give back to the world, through organizations like ACOFOP.”
Eloy Gonzalez
Student, Political Geography 3340

“I was very glad to hear that ACOFOP and Texas State have partnered together to promote community forestry and to raise awareness on the issue [of sustainable community forestry].”
Andrea Gonzalez Vara
Student, Political Geography 3340

“Mr. Cortave was incredibly passionate... I feel privileged to have heard Mr. Cortave speak. I hope others can become aware of this issue and community forestry can be safe for future generations.”
Mia MacGregor
Student, Political Geography 3340

“I brought along a friend to the speech so I could hopefully expand this knowledge on the area, and raise awareness to your cause.”
James May
Student, Political Geography 3340

“Marcedonio Cortave made the conflicts in Guatemala more clear and real…it was a way to reinforce the things that we are learning in class. What I found most interesting is that there is little government control around the MBR, so the community is vulnerable and have to step in. I believe that this organization has the right intentions to conserving the MBR, auditing the area, and promoting community forestry and socioeconomic growth.”
Amanda New
Student, Political Geography 3340

“I really enjoyed attending the ACOFOP presentation given by Marcedonio Cortave. ACOFOP is an inspiring organization made up of amazing people who I admire for giving their lives to a great, needed cause in despite of the corruption and political pushback they deal with in their every day lives.”
Terri Nowicki
Student, Political Geography 3340

“I found it very interesting all of the different ways ACOFOP has had an impact in their community. To bring together 23 small organizations to make a ginormous impact like they have was incredibly inspiring.”
Brandon O’Hara
Student, Political Geography 3340

“Through ACOFOP, I learned that it is the people who must come together to make a change because unfortunately, Latin American governments are influenced by corruption and if the people are not actively engaged in their community, it is difficult for Latin America to improve and grow as a region…It is our mission as Latinos and citizens of the world to pay attention to issues and to make greater efforts for the conservation of our flora and fauna all over the world.”
Diana Reyes
Student, Political Geography 3340

“I thought it was amazing that a country would set aside over 30% of its land as a reservation, and it really hit home to here first hand how there are so many people devoting there life to sustainable community forestry. People hear about this kind of thing all the time from third parties, like the news or the internet, but when you hear it from the person that it is directly affecting - when they talk about it and you hear the pain in their voice - you get a true understanding about the issues they face.”
Daniel Tittle
Student, Political Geography 3340

“The thing that struck me the hardest while attending Marcedonio Cortave’s lecture on ACOFOP and the Guatemalan community forest programs was the importance of natural resources. Prior to this talk, I knew that community forestry empowered the people in the form of harvesting jobs, and profit from selling the lumber. What I did not consider, however, were the additional, indirect benefits; instead of having a government-owned company that simply harvests and sells lumber without giving back to the community that rely on the forest to survive, a community project like this re-injects the profits of the lumber into the local economy, allowing for the creation of more jobs and better health.”
Marcus Vergren
Student, Political Geography 3340

“One of the most intriguing parts of this lecture was learning how this organization connects indigenous natives with the political and economic world. Hearing that ACOFOP was already working with other organizations around the world made me realize that there is vast potential for ACOFOP to become a leader and model for growing organizations around the world.”
Laura Wilhelm
Student, Political Geography 3340