research + development
aquaponics + permaculture
Waste Management + recycling programs
Studying the natural world can be challenging, and applying that research to effectively protect environments can be even more so. But as a pillar of HIA’s existence, conservation will always stay top of mind for our community. In addition to our own programs, we collaborate with universities near and far to continually advance our protection of the natural world.
The Ranch will be a center of ecotourism and international conservation research that attracts scholars, visitors and lovers of the environment from all corners of the globe to share in our beautiful biosphere. We hope to provide the most unique, fun and inspirational visits possible with our flora and fauna, exotic ruins and vibrant culture, and will strive to give back to the local community what they have given us all these years in the jungle.
The Peten region of northern Guatemala is home to the Maya Biosphere Reserve, a 5.2-million acre (2.1-million hectare) area that is part of the largest intact tropical forest north of the Amazon. It's no wonder the Peten jungle is known as "the lungs of the Americas."
Unique treasures are found throughout Petén, from towering Kapok trees, jaguars, pumas and scarlet macaws to the temples of Tikal National Park, one of the largest cities of the ancient Maya civilization.
The Mayan biosphere was created in response to these environmental attacks, but without much government funding, the land remains under the protection of local inhabitants and small non profits against large private corporations with monetary interests in the area, an unfair battle that is playing out on the land and residents are losing their land, trees, and livelihood.
Additionally. no government services exist to help with waste disposal or recycling, so residents burn plastic bottles for heat, creating a toxic atmosphere. Wood is the primary fossil fuel for cooking in the region, and many residents, usually the elderly and children, walk up to 3 miles a day to obtain materials.
To date, Hearts in Action has worked tirelessly with our community to combat the effects of deforestation and habitat loss. We have made ecology and conservation a priority on the Ranch. We continue to reforest the land and have dedicated ourselves to working with and teaching local children, youth and adults how to protect the Biosphere.
We have worked with over 450 families on recycling programs that teach how to reuse materials instead of wasting them. One example is the use of plastic bottles as fire starters which is common practice here but toxic, so we are focusing our efforts on teaching sound environmental practices from an early age. We have also partnered with the Rainforest Alliance to source FSC certified wood for all of our carpentry needs and have begun many ecological projects onsite, including permaculture, a tilapia farm and composting and organic gardens.
Are you interested in learning more about the Peten Jungle and the Mayan biosphere? Do Mayan organic gardens, archeology, tropical fruit production or orchids interest you?
Consider getting more involved with Hearts in Action. Connect with us to find out how you can visit the Ranch! We offer ecotourism expeditions, short and long term retreats, research and volunteer opportunities.