Resource Details

Maya Nut Reforestation

Project: Project - Nonprofit

Contact Info

Erika Vohman, Executive Director, Maya Nut Institute,


Maya Nut Institute


Case Study Report:

Species Info

  • Brosimum alicastrum


  • The mission of the program is to conserve the Maya nut tree, Brosimum alicastrum, by planting trees and teaching rural and indigenous women to harvest and process the seed for food and income.
  • This training motivates conservation and reforestation by rural communities.
  • This tree is highly threatened, but was once common in the forest and frequently used for food and to attract/maintain game by many cultures in Latin America and the Caribbean. 
  • The program's goals are for the restoration of Maya nut forest and its use in households to help reduce food scarcity and increase the income of local peoples from the sale of Maya nut and Maya nut byproducts (nutritional supplements, coffee substitutes, pancake and drink mixes, flour, etc).
  • Since the project began in 2001, 15,000 women from 900 communities have been trained, over 1.5 million trees planted, and 22 women’s Maya nut producer groups established.
  • The program also encourages the planting of Maya nut in silvopastoral systems because of the high protein content of the forage that the tree produces. 
  • Another goal of the project is to remove Brosimum alicastrum from the FSC and Rainforest Alliance lists of acceptable timber species in order to conserve it for food and biodiversity protection.
  • Future plans include increasing the impact of the project, generating more interest from the government of Guatemala, getting the Maya nut approved by the world food program for school lunches and food aid, and expanding the program to the parts of South America where the Maya nut is also native.
  • So far, projects have been conducted in Bolivia, Colombia, Peru, El Salvador, Guatemala, Haiti, Honduras, Mexico, and Nicaragua.


  • General
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    ELTI is a joint initiative of:
    Yale School of Forestry & Environmental Studies Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute