Our story began in 1983

After meeting, Thor Janson and Magaly Rey Rosa discovered a mutual love for the natural world that eventually led them to join forces and work together to defend nature and bring the “green” philosophy to Guatemalan society.

The first years of work were filled with meetings, activities, and people who in one way or another helped to establish the foundation of the Foundation. One of those people was Luis Movil, General Manager of Esso/Exxon of Central America at the time, who provided the necessary funding to produce the first official documents of Defensores de la Naturaleza.

The dream was always to have a nature reserve, and after flying over Sierra de las Minas, Magaly and Thor fell in love with the cloud forest. With the support of biologists from the Universidad del Valle de Guatemala (especially Drs. Dix and Schuster), they began to seek the declaration of Sierra de las Minas as a protected area.

In 1986, Defensores de la Naturaleza was formally registered as a non-profit, non-political organization.

On October 4, 1990, the Guatemalan Congress declared the Sierra de las Minas Biosphere Reserve a protected area and granted administration to the Foundation. Subsequently, in 1996 it received the administration of the Refugio de Vida Silvestre Bocas del Polochic, in 1997 of the Parque Nacional Naciones Unidas, and in 1999 the co-administration of the Parque Nacional Sierra del Lacandón.

In 2003, with the creation of the Alliance for the Conservation of Mesoamerican Pine-Oak Forests, we began to work through different models based on alliances. Over time we came to understand that, to conserve natural resources, it was necessary to work hand in hand with local communities through community benefit projects, and we can proudly say that, today, local communities have become our most important alliance for the conservation of natural resources in the long term.


We are the first civil foundation to be co-responsible for a protected area, becoming, since 1990, a model of protected area management in Latin America.


Legal constitution of Fundación Defensores de la Naturaleza as a civil, non-political, and non-profit organization.


The Congress of the Republic declares the Sierra de las Minas Biosphere Reserve a protected area, delegating its co-administration to Defensores.

Co-administration of the Refugio de Vida Silvestre Bocas del Polochic in Izabal.

Defensores assumes the administration and management of the Parque Nacional Naciones Unidas, Amatitlán.

Co-administration of Parque Nacional Sierra del Lacandón, Petén.


Formation of the Alliance for the Conservation of the Pine-Oak Forests of Mesoamerica.

We promoted the declaration of private natural reserves in biological corridors and dry forests.


Initiation of REDD+ “Forests for Life”, the first project in partnership with local communities.

Through the reduction of deforestation, we obtained international certification of the first 1.8 million tons of carbon equivalent (tCO2eq).


USAID-funded “Bienestar por Biodiversidad” project begins.