43,433 square miles
More than 5 million seeds distributed
More than 200,000 trees planted
Targeted agroforestry efforts
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The varied environment of Honduras ranges from lush rainforest and secondary forest vegetation in the hot humid north coast to cooler, humid high plateaus and drier fertile interior valleys to the semiarid south. Along the north coast, years of cattle use has left pastureland compacted and highly eroded, while logging has almost eliminated once abundant hardwood stands. In the highlands, the improper cultivation of steep terrain and use of agro-chemicals for coffee and vegetable production have left streams and aquifers polluted and full of silt. In the central valleys, extensive logging has damaged important watersheds, leaving population centers with less and less water. Southern Honduras has suffered from centuries of free-range cattle farming and shortening of the cycle of slash-and-burn agriculture. Once beautiful hills are barren, and streams that used to run all year now dry up in February, leaving communities without water until the rainy season in May. Honduras has recently sold off much of its abundant pine and less common tropical hardwoods. The government now has instituted a certification process and barred harvesting of natural hardwood stands. Logging had dropped by 2008, but the demand for fireword remains a threat to forest cover. Higher energy prices have driven many urban dwellers back to the use of wood to cook their food. The price of firewood has doubled, attracting rural dwellers to cut and sell more wood.
What We've Done
In the north coast, we work with Lancetilla Botanical Garden and Research Center to provide fruit trees and timber species to farmers who will plant them in the most fragile pastures, thus protecting areas at risk for erosion. We also provide educational material explaining the advantages of specific species for forage, and the benefits of stable-fed dairy cattle. In the highlands, we work with local organizations to teach soil conservation practices, using nitrogen-fixing trees to maintain soils and improve their quality. We also provide fast-growing timber species to coffee farmers to encourage them to grow shade coffee and to diversify their income. These seedlings will be certified by local government institutions so that farmers will have the opportunity to legally sell the timber. In the central valleys, we work with local groups to plant trees that will protect important watersheds, which provide water to cities. In the South, we provide forage trees to cattle producers and teach the advantages of pasturing cattle infrequently or not at all. We also encourage the planting of Moringa oleifera (the “miracle tree”) for its nutritional benefits.
Trees for the Future distributed some 5.1 million seeds to partners in Honduras in 2011 so that they could establish nurseries. We visited new potential partner organizations, including coffee producing groups in La Paz, small sugar producers in Taulabe, and dairy farmers in Yoro. These visits are part of an effort to focus our work in Honduras on small single community groups, and on agroforestry rather than the pure reforestation efforts of earlier years. In central Honduras, we planted about 200,000 trees with Aldea Global (Global Village) and the CEASO system (a network of sustainable agriculture educational centers) in 2009. In all, we planted 3 million trees in 2009.
List of Partnering Organizations
Healthy Schools Program Office of the First Lady, Government of Honduras
Peace Corps USA / Honduras
Aldea Global (Global Village) Siguatepeque
CEASO (Centro Educativo de Agricultura Sostenible) Network Honduras
Lancetilla Botanical Garden Honduras