Forest and Farm Facility

How to expand local initiatives to take care of our planet


The indigenous community of San Jerónimo Purenchécuaro is an example of the contribution of Indigenous Peoples to climate action and local populations’ wellbeing and livelihoods.

In the tight-knit indigenous community of San Jerónimo Purenchécuaro, Mexico, Gonzalo Vaca Esquivel carries out his duties as elementary school teacher and Secretary of the local Commision of Communal Lands. The 3,000 inhabitants of the community located on the shores of Lake Pátzcuaro are well known for their culture, traditions, crafts, and, above all, care for the environment and natural resources.

Governed by traditions and customs, members of the community have worked hard for the conservation of their forests and wetlands. Nowadays, 2,300 hectares of the land are destined for conservation. “Our environmental awareness has been passed down from generation to generation – our grandparents knew, many years ago, that we had to manage our land responsibly and sustainably. The community respects this because we know that it is for our own benefit. It is our home,” said Gonzalo at the Exchange of knowledge on community mechanisms for territorial financing, held in October and hosted by the Mesoamerican Alliance of Peoples and Forests (AMPB), in collaboration with the Forest and Farm Facility (FFF).

While the community receives some financial support from local authorities, members are also key in attracting resources through their own initiatives and work. With increased funding reaching the ground, the impact of communities such as San Jerónimo Purenchécuaro could be multiplied and scaled-up across the globe.

Protect, restore, multiply

One of the main work areas of the indigenous community of San Jerónimo Purenchécuaro is reforestation and forest monitoring. Gonzalo’s background as a teacher definitely contributes to the success of these activities. “Alongside the children and adolescents of the community, this year we planted 15,000 trees. We have our own nursery with endemic seeds, and for me it is an immense pleasure to work with them to plant these trees and take care of them,” shared Gonzalo. Through the establishment of their forest nursery the community is able to produce up to 20 thousand pine and oak plants annually. In the past year, the community restored 20 hectares of forest land.

Considering the importance of Lake Pátzcuaro for the local population’s health and livelihoods, the community has also built a water treatment system consisting of sediments, plants, stones, pipes and a membrane to ensure that the water that reaches the lake is free of fats, soaps, excreta and metals. Finally, the community is working on the establishment of an Aquaculture Research Center for the preservation of local fauna species.

The local authorities see and appreciate our work – it speaks for itself,” said Gonzalo, “and we had a chance to further publicize it at the Exchange of knowledge on community mechanisms for territorial financing. It is very important to know that there are organizations that see the importance of improving finance mechanisms for local communities such as micro-banks for artisans and small producers.”

Channelling finance to Indigenous Peoples and Local Communities for a better future

Despite the contributions of Indigenous Peoples such as the community of San Jerónimo Purenchécuaro, it is estimated that only USD 46 million reach their hands every year for the preservation of forests.

If the community received appropriate financial support, it would be able to invest in new projects, such as amplifying its water treatment system, and expand its initiatives to the neighbouring communities of Santa Fe and San Andrés.  

In 2021, governments and private resource partners pledged USD 1.7 billion in support of Indigenous Peoples and Local Communities. It is now our responsibility to ensure that this support reaches the hands of those leading climate action on the ground, such as Gonzalo and his community.


For more information:

Indigenous and local communities exchange experiences of territorial financing

New Community Territorial Finance Alliance calls for support of proposals from indigenous peoples and local communities

Indígenas latinoamericanos presionan por financiamiento climático creativo