GNF - Roots fo Life - Lake Chapala in Mexico

Roots of Life at Lake Chapala, Mexico

The Roots of Life: Improved living conditions through improved production practices and forest restoration in the Sierras of Chapala


Together with the Instituto Corazón de la Tierra (ICT), GNF has developed a project for poverty reduction, reforestation and climate protection in two villages in the Sierras de Chapala. The 4,500 mostly indigenous inhabitants of the villages live from agriculture (often using massive amounts of agrochemical), extensive livestock farming and fishery. The biggest problem is the deforestation in the Sierras de Chapala to gain new pastureland and due to unsustainable management. This has a negative impact on the local climate, the supply of food for the people, the quality of life and, due to erosion, also directly on the lake.

Project Goals

Improving living conditions, combating poverty, demonstrating and opening up options for action – these are the most important goals of the project. Public relations work and environmental education with the local people are core themes.


In places particularly affected by erosion, forest is being afforested and sustainable livestock and agroforestry is being promoted. This is an important step to protect the people from catastrophic landslides and to prevent the lake from siltation.


In the fisheries sector at Lake Chapala, initial impulses are being given for stronger regional value creation. In the long term, the project measures are also to be implemented in 16 other villages in the neighbouring districts.

Project Measures

In two years, 250 families will benefit from the project measures and learn about sustainable farming options. Our approach is bringing together traditional farming methods and modern sustainable agriculture. To this end, ICT will use model farms to train villagers in environmentally sound farming and sustainable livestock management and to educate them as ambassadors.


Terraces will be built to combat progressive erosion and to halt the siltation of the lake. In addition, a tree nursery for seedlings will be newly established with which about 48 hectares will be gradually reforested.


The filleting of fish and the production of canned food are introduced as examples at the lake with some fishermen to diversify livelihoods and strengthen value creation in the region.


Lake Chapala is the largest lake in Mexico. With a size of 1,100 km², it is twice as large as Lake Constance. However, because the lake is very shallow, Lake Chapala has only an eighth of the water volume of Lake Constance, making it vulnerable to pollution and climate change. The lake is located near the megacity of Guadalajara on a high plateau at the foot of the Sierra de Chapala and is the most important drinking water reservoir in western Mexico. Lake Chapala is a hub for pan-American bird migration and has therefore been protected by the Ramsar Convention for the Protection of Wetlands since 2009. Many endangered animal and plant species live in and around the lake, and thousands of North American migratory birds spend the winter here.


11 million people live in the catchment area, exposing it to considerable pressures. Water abstraction for domestic use, agriculture, and dam projects in the upper reaches of the tributaries, are lowering the water level. Large amounts of wastewater and agricultural inputs have further polluted the lake, which is now considered extremely endangered. Deforestation in the catchment area leads to considerable erosion making the predominantly indigenous population very vulnerable.

 Landwirtschaftlich genutzte Fläche
 Intakte Wälder schützen vor den Gefahren und Folgen von Erosion.
 Ein Fischer zieht seinen Fang an Land.


 Bundesministerium für wirtschaftliche Zusammenarbeit und Entwicklung (BMZ)

Project Partner:

 Instituto Corazón de la Tierra

Contribution to the Sustainable Development Goals

The project should make a concrete contribution to the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs):

 Goal 8: Promote sustained, inclusive and sustainable economic growth, full and productive employment and decent work for all
 Goal 12: Ensure sustainable consumption and production patterns
 Goal 13: Take urgent action to combat climate change and its impacts
 Goal 15: Protect, restore and promote sustainable use of terrestrial ecosystems, sustainably manage forests, combat desertification, and halt and reverse land degradation and halt biodiversity loss

Contact Person


Mr David Marchetti
Global Nature Fund – Office Radolfzell
Phone: +49 7732 9995 86


Official Project Title:



Project Period:


Project Country:





Project Partner:

The Roots of Life: Improved living conditions through improved production practices and forest restoration in the Sierras of Chapala


January 2021 - December 2022




German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ), Sika AG


Instituto Corazón de la Tierra