Los Andes Private Nature Reserve is an estate located in the western part of Guatemala that sustainably produces specialty coffee, tea and macadamia nuts.
Los Andes has been producing coffee for over 100 years and has endeavored to introduce new technologies to minimize the impact of coffee production on its fragile environment. Currently, the farm uses an ecological wet milling system, which has been shown to mitigate the watershed impacts of nearby rivers, as well as a solar powered system for coffee drying. Los Andes’ shade grown coffee is C.A.F.E. Practices certified (Starbucks Coffee Company).
In December of 2008, Verde Ventures provided a rotating credit line of $170,000 for working capital for the coffee harvest.
With a total area of 607 hectares, Los Andes maintains 364 hectares of native forests, or 60 percent of the total area of the estate. The estate is home to several globally threatened bird species, including the national bird of Guatemala known as the resplendent quetzal ( Pharomachrus mocinno
), the Azure-rumped tanager ( Tangara cabanisi
) and the horned guan ( Oreophasis derbianus
Los Andes focuses on sustainable agriculture and agrotourism as a means to provide economic incentives to local communities and minimize the impacts of agriculture expansion in the region.
In addition, Los Andes is currently implementing a nesting program for the quetzal, and to date has placed nearly 45 artificial nests throughout the reserve. Hunting is strictly prohibited in the reserve and Los Andes employs four guards who monitor the area and strictly enforce this policy. The estate has also introduced energy-efficient stoves to nearby communities, which will decrease the extraction of timber for use as firewood.
Los Andes conducts several environmental awareness programs for both children and adults, has rebuilt a primary school and established a health clinic. Approximately 50 families live within the estate (298 inhabitants in total) and 150 additional farmers are contracted during harvest season.