The tropical forests of western Honduras in the Trifinio region are remote and biologically highly diverse. The forests are home to a range of species and provide a vital source of clean water for local villages.
These forests are particularly important for conservation because they form part of Central America’s Montecristo wildlife corridor, which covers parts of Honduras, El Salvador and Guatemala.
Find out how World Land Trust is supporting conservation in western Honduras...
In Honduras, WLT’s intention is to protect tropical forests in the west of the country by supporting land purchase within the Trifinio Fraternity – Volcan Pacayita Biological Corridor, including Güisayote and Volcán Pacayita Reserves. Both sites lie in the Trifinio Region, at the meeting point of three countries, Honduras, El Salvador and Guatemala.
WLT also aims to support ongoing conservation by funding both a ranger in Güisayote Reserve and capacity building activities for staff of AESMO, WLT’s Honduran conservation partner.
Other projects in Honduras:
How WLT is helping
WLT has funded land purchase to extend protected areas in Güisayote and Volcán Pacayita Biological Reserves.
WLT is funding a Keeper of the Wild (Lurvin Mejía) to work in Güisayote Reserve.
WLT is also providing advice and guidance to build AESMO’s capacity. For example, WLT co-funded an exchange visit in June 2013, which enabled a group of AESMO representatives to visit conservation organisation FUNDAECO in neighbouring Guatemala.
To date few biological surveys have been carried out within Güisayote Biological Reserve. However, it is known that the reserve and surrounding forests are important habitat for Puma (Puma concolor), Jaguarundi (Felis yagouaroundi), Common Opossum (Didelphis marsupialis), Spider Monkey (Ateles geoffroyi), White-lipped Peccary (Tayassu pecari) and Nine-banded Armadillo (Dasypus novemcinctus), Spotted Paca (Agouti paca), Northern Raccoon (Procyon lotor), White-tailed deer (Odocoileus virginianus).
Bird species found in this area include Chachalaca (Ortalis vetula), Red-tailed Hawk (Buteo jamaicensis), and Quetzal (Pharomachrus mocinno).
The area is extremely important for the conservation of amphibians in particular the Honduras White-lipped Frog (Leptodactylus silvanimbus). This species is found only in the Department of Ocotepeque in extreme western Honduras, at elevations of 1,470-2,000 metres above sea level, and is classified as critically endangered by the IUCN Red List. The area is also likely to be home to Cerro Pital Salamander (Bolitoglossa synoria). Critically endangered, this salamander is native to Honduras and El Salvador, and has been recorded at the nearby El Pital Biological Reserve.
The mixed forest consists predominantly of broadleaf species and a mix of hardwoods and conifers such as Liquidambar (Liquidambar styraciflua), commonly called sweetgum. Oak and pine are recorded at lower altitudes than the broadleaf forest.
Trees include: Mountain Oak (Quercus skinneri), Mountain Cypress (Podocarpus guatemalensis), Saurauria species, Oreopanx xalapensis, Clusia species, and Calatola laevigata.
Smaller plants included bromeliads, orchids, araceas, ferns (tree ferns, in particular), mosses, lianas and vines.
Threats to the tropical forest of the Trifinio region
Threats to the forest include:
- Illegal hunting, timber harvesting and mining
- Expansion of arable and livestock agriculture, and incursion of livestock
- Contamination of soil and water
- Forest fires
- Human activities, motocross, for example
Güisayote Biological Reserve
Güisayote Biological Reserve shares a border with El Salvador and protects dozens of mountain streams flowing into the Ulúa River (and onward into the Caribbean Sea - Atlantic Ocean) and into the Lempa River (and onward into the Pacific Ocean). The mountainous landscape of the reserve has diverse features including caves, waterfalls, natural valleys (Sensenti and Sesecapa) and viewpoints overlooking El Salvador and Guatemala. There is a mix of vegetation with trees, shrubs, bromeliads and ferns.
Güisayote was declared a Biological Reserve in 1987, which is the strictest category within the protected areas network in Honduras. Despite its status, the reserve is threatened by building, deforestation and mining - although recent proposals to establish mines to extract gold, silver and other precious metals were rejected following strong opposition from communities, municipalities, AESMO and other sectors of civil society. AESMO has been managing the reserve since 1990.
Volcán Pacayita Reserve
Volcán Pacayita Reserve encompasses privately owned properties, which are vulnerable to exploitation and urgently need protection.
The reserve comprises primary cloud forest and protects fresh water sources for several Lencas indigenous communities within the buffer zone of the Pacayita Reserve and in the Sensenti Valley.