Brief history of Chelemhá Reserve

Before 1997: Efforts to protect the Chelemhá cloud forest began already in 1958, when Alfred Schleehauf bought Chelemhá to protect it as habitat for Resplendent Quetzal (Jonathan E. Maslow. 1986: Bird of life, bird of death. Simon & Schuster, New York). Chelemhá is therefore the first quetzal reserve in Guatemala.

1997: Markus Reinhard, Armin Schumacher, and Vera Hurschler purchased Finca Chelemhá driven by their interest in forest conservation and spirit of adventure.

1999-2000: Reforestations with pine (Pinus maximinoi), supported by INAB (Instituto Nacional de Boques), adjacent to primary cloud forest.

Armin Schumacher and assistants planting pine seedlings
Armin Schumacher and assistants planting pine seedlings in 2000.

2000: Foundation of the conservationists association UPROBON (Unión para Proteger el Bosque Nuboso) for the management of Chelemhá Reserve.

since 2002: Reforestations with local broadleaf tree species along the edge of pristine cloud forest.

2002: Chelemhá was declared as Reserva Natural Privada by CONAP (Consejo Nacional de Áreas Protegidas, Resolución CONAP 127/2002), the national authority of protected area. The preparation for the declaration was provided by Susanne Friedrich, student of Fachhochschule Eberswalde, Germany.

Chelemhá Lodge during construction
Markus Reinhard and Phillip Weiß working on the roof of Chelemhá Lodge during construction in 2003.

2002-2004: Construction of Chelemhá Lodge, designed by Markus Reinhard, who also led the construction as master-builder. Vera Hurschler was key person for local logistics running smoothly. Furniture was designed and made by Markus Reinhard and the team of Muebles Tontem. The support by volunteers Phillip Weiß, Ueli Zahner, Sascha Däschler, Stephan, Beni and David was essential during the construction of the lodge. The construction was funded by FONACON and UPROBON.

Chelemhá Lodge during construction
People from neighboring villages learned with Markus Reinhard their carpentry skills and were hired as assistants for building Chelemhá Lodge.

Since 2003: Knut Eisermann and Claudia Avendaño of CAYAYA BIRDING and PROEVAL RAXMU Bird Monitoring Program support Chelemhá through fundraising, teaching local birding guides, bird monitoring, publicity, advise, and communication.

2003: Extension of Chelemhá Reserve through the purchase of 172 ha, now connecting Chelemhá with two other private nature reserves: Kantishul and Chinajux y Sechinaux, and protecting most of the the upper part of Montaña Yalijux. The land purchase was supported by NABU, Stiftung Artenschutz, PROEVAL RAXMU Bird Monitoring Program, and private donors.

2007: BirdLife International designated 21 Important Bird Areas (IBA) in Guatemala, and Chelemhá is part of IBA Yalijux (IBA GT010). An overview of Guatemalan IBAs is given in Eisermann, K. & C. Avendaño (2009) Guatemala. Pp. 235-242 In: C. Devenish, D. F. Diaz Fernández, R. P. Clay, I. Davidson & I. Y. Zabala (eds.) Important Bird Areas Americas, priority sites for biodiversity conservation. BirdLife Conservation Series 16. Birdlife International, Quito, Ecuador. PDF


Chelemhá Lodge during construction
Chelemhá Lodge during construction in 2003.
Chelemhá Lodge during construction
Markus and Vera Reinhard with kids and Phillip Weiß during a work break on the main framing of Chelemhá Lodge in 2003.
Chelemhá Lodge during construction
Chelemhá Lodge during construction in 2004.
master-builder in his carpenter's workshop
The master-builder in his carpenter's workshop.
Chelemhá Lodge during construction
Chelemhá Lodge during construction in 2004.
Chelemhá Lodge during construction
Chelemhá Lodge during construction in 2005.
Guide training
Guide training.

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