Replanting the Rainforest in Honduras

A curious toucan
A curious toucan
Photo: Asociación Patuca

The last great rainforest of Central America is located in the South of Honduras. Sadly the rate of deforestation here has remained steady and since 2007, Naturefund has been working with the Patuca Association in order to help prevent this.

The last great rainforest of Central America

The rainforest, which once covered a large part of Central America, has over the centuries been reduced to the small area that you see today. The last great rainforest of Central America measured 10,000 km² - an area so large that it would cover a quarter of Switzerland - and stretched from southeast Honduras all the way to Nicaragua.

Our aim was to protect the unique variety of species who live here for the long-term. Jaguar, Anteaters, Margays, wild Parrots and many other rare species shold have a chance at survival. 

Deforestation in the rainforest

In order to develop new agricultural areas, more and more of the rainforest has been steadily destroyed. At the same time, extensive cultivation and use of the land as pasture for cattle has meant that the quality of the soil has decreased, leaving it devoid of nutrients.

In order to prevent further deforestation and further damage, it is vital to increase awareness and also to find new sources of income for the farmers.

In order to protect an replenish the rainforest the hondurian conservation organisation Asociación Patuca took over the management of the Patuca National Park in 2005.

103 new tree nurseries

With the support of many people from Europe and together with the Asociacion Patuca, Naturefund has succeeded in planting 105,283 new trees since 2007. Together with people from the area, we were able to establish 103 new tree nurseries in the rainforest and implemented the sustainable cultivation method Dynamic Agroforestry.

To promote natural reforestation, Naturefund started in 2011 in cooperation with Dr. Kelm a pilot project with bats. Many bats in the tropics of America eat fruit and thus distributing the seeds of trees. Together with students from the University of Tegucigalpa and the local families, artificial bat houses have been set up to strengthen these native seed distributors.

Introduction of dynamic agroforestry

Also in 2011, Naturefund tested for the first time the method Dynamic Agroforestry in the National Park Patuca. An introductory workshop with 15 farmers took place in April 2011. The response to this new cultivation method was positive, so that at the beginning of the rainy season in September 2011, Naturefund funded another workshop. We did not advertise and yet 56 men and women took part in this second workshop, so great was the interest. All the areas converted to dynamic agroforestry in 2011 were wooded 18 months later and people had more to eat than ever before.

Since resonance was so positive, in the spring of 2012, Naturefund sent five people to Bolivia for further education in the Dynamic Agroforestry, including two national park employees, a professor from Tegucigalpa University and two farmers. After their return from Bolivia, the two farmers founded the cooperative Coapanal, which today spreads the method Dynamic Agroforestry in the National Park Patuca.

With the University of Tegucigalpa and the "Instituto Nacional de Conservación y Desarrollo Foresta" a training in the Dynamic Agroforestry in Honduras is to be established in the coming years.

Basic data

Location

The Patuca National Park is located in southeast Honduras on the border with Nicaragua.

Size

The Patuca National Park covers an area of 3,756 km². Around 60 percent of this is untouched rainforest. 40 percent of the conservation area is either damaged or completely destroyed.

Wildlife

Jaguars, Giant Anteaters, Margays, Toucans and many others;

Flora

Caoba (mahogany), Cedro (cedar), Ceiba, Laurel, Guanacaste, Mangoes, Avocados, Mazica, Guapino and many other;

Special characteristics

The rainforest which in earlier times covered a large part of Central America has been largely destroyed over the last few centuries leaving very little remaining. One last large forest area which encompasses the Patuca National Park and covers approximately 10,000 km² remains standing.

Partner

Our project partner was the Asociacion Patuca, a non-profit nature conservation organisation from Honduras.

Concept for protection

With the help of reforestation, the existing rainforest is being protected and cleared areas are being replanted. At the same time, fruit trees are being planted which offers a new source of food as well as new financial possibilities to local people. Through close co-operation with the local community we also try to promote a new understanding of the importance of the rainforest.

 

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