Itzama Project : Sustainable Indigenous Development based on the Ethnobotanical Garden and Traditional Medicine Concept

The Itzama project began with the indigenous Maya in Belize. It is based on the premise that, in a context of cultural and biodiversity conservation, traditional botanical and medicinal knowledge could be used as a vehicle for culturally appropriate development and the promotion of community health. In Belize, the ethnobotanical garden infrastructure is in place, traditional medicine practice has been documented and the development model has been well received by the Mayan community. However, further work is needed to ensure its sustainability by training the next generation and developing microenterprises. Moreover, healers have expressed the need for recognition from the medical establishment and respect for the land.

This project will endeavor to address these concerns through training programs for young people and women, and the development of microenterprises (botanical tourism, small-scale production of validated medicinal plant products). The project is also expected to result in progress toward formal remunerated participation of healers in officially recognized complementary health care activities.

Project ID


Project status


Start Date

Friday, May 2, 2008

End Date

Monday, August 31, 2009


12 months

IDRC Officer

Mougeot, Luc

Total funding

CA$ 49,270


Belize, North and Central America, South America


Foundations for Innovation

Project Leader

John T. Arnason


University of Ottawa

Institution Country


Institution Website