by Sebastian Africano, International Director
It’s a strange and heavy burden you feel when you’re travelling through what is meant to be the second largest contiguous rainforest in the Americas, and you see more cattle than wildlife, more slash and burn desolation than old growth, and few signs of land-use planning or enforcement of regulations meant for protected areas. The Reserve of Man and Biosphere of the Río Plátano in Eastern Honduras is part ecological gem, part three alarm fire, with pristine jungle being continually converted to ranch land, to provide income to a continuously growing population of colonists from around the country.
Trees, Water & People (TWP) is fortunate to have both access to the communities of the Biosphere, and the support of a team of dedicated individuals determined to implement a combination of programs that would create alternatives to the current norm in this remote, off-grid region of the country. The common ingredient in all of our proposals is sustainable livelihoods – identifying appropriate, income generating activities that are as or more lucrative than cattle ranching, and which are restorative rather than destructive.
Through simultaneous investments in promoting shade-grown cacao, coffee and maya nuts with partner GIZ PRORENA and training entrepreneurs to sell affordable solar lighting technologies and clean cookstoves with partners AHDESA and USAID ProParque, we are stimulating activities that result in forest conservation, environmental education and income diversification – three foundations on which we can begin to build a more sustainable future for the Biosphere.
This challenge, however difficult, is always made easier with the support of TWP’s indefatigable donors and followers. This is our North American Amazon, the lungs of our planet, and a treasure worth protecting for our collective benefit.
Please visit www.treeswaterpeople.org to learn more about this and other projects, and to donate in support of creating alternative livelihoods for the inhabitants of this fragile ecosystem.