Implementing the Vision
Implementing the Vision
As the Team toured the FUNAVID property and its environments, it became clear that the region offers enormous opportunities for demonstrating sound land use and economic development in the tropics. The region has all the attributes that one finds throughout Central America and the Caribbean. Its lush tropical forestlands on steep tropical watersheds connect to extensive coastal alluvial plains, extensive beach systems, and superb corral reef, mangrove, and other marine environments. The region has tourism, scientific, and economic growth potential. Moreover, the supporting infrastructure is still in the developing stages, which allows for an opportunity to develop its economic potential while incorporating the health of natural resources into the developing scheme. The natural resources of northern Honduras have the potential of providing critical ecosystem services to humans and their economies, including sustaining a vigorous eco-tourism industry. This vision is central to the objectives of USAID in Honduras as discussed in the introduction. Moreover, fundamental to developing this vision is the empowering the rural population through education and stabilization of their food, water, and energy supply. We strongly support FUNAVID’s focus on the rural population as a cornerstone of the full economic development of the region.
The complexity of the socio-ecologic system of the region requires long-term multi-agency collaboration in order to effectively implement a holistic vision of economic development for this part of Honduras. The Team believes that the project with the guama tree alley cropping agroforestry system, the strong partnership of UNAHCURLA and FUNAVID, the project site location and it close proximity to the continental shelf and the Cayos Cochinos Islands make it an ideal location to establish a long-term demonstration site that could yield substantial information that is of enormous value in the management and health of the 1,100 km of the Mesoamerican reef. Research that is developed to look at agroforestry systems that can help residents progress beyond meeting the basic level of subsistence survival, reduce the amount of landbased pollution that enters the marine environment, and studies the impacts on the many components of the Mesoamerican reef has the potential of positively impacting the nearly 2 million people from the four neighboring countries – Mexico, Belize, Guatemala, and Honduras that live along and depend upon the reef system for much of the their livelihood.
The U.S. Government is investing heavily in Central America inclusive of Honduras through program funding of USAID, the Millennium Corporation, and special initiative funding of the State Department earmarked by Congress in support of the Central American Free Trade Agreement (CAFTA). Other U.S. Government Agencies such as EPA, NOAA, USGS, and the Smithsonian Institute (Cayos Ccohinos Reserve, Honduras) are investing in the study of marine resources in the greater Caribbean region. Honduras also is the recipient of assistance from other bilateral donors including Japan, Spain, Germany, Switzerland, Canada, and the United Kingdom. Many of these countries have an interest in environmental issues. In addition, the World Bank/Global Environmental Fund has a large Central American regional initiative called the Mesoamerican Barrier Reef Initiative (MBRI). The Project for the Conservation and Sustainable Use of the Mesoamerican Barrier Reef System (MBRS) was launched on June 20, 2001. The Global Environment Facility (GEF) and the Governments of Belize, Guatemala, Honduras, and Mexico fund this project. Appendix 6 is a current description of the MBRS project taken from the World Banks website. The Mesoamerican reef is also of high interest to many non-governmental organizations that are investing in the protection and sustainable conservation of the reef and its many ecosystems. NGO’s such as Nature Conservancy, Wildlife Conservation Society, World Wildlife Fund-Central America, Wider Caribbean Sea Turtle Conservation Fund, the Coral Reef Alliance, the International Ecotourism Society, and the Hart Foundation to name a few have a high interest in the Mesoamerican reef and research projects on the reef system.
The Team believes that a long-term study that links the terrestrial land based watershed and agriculture systems to the adjoining marine systems could be a catalyst in bringing together a research partnership from many of the sources listed above. This effort would certainly through a collective effort address all of the stated goals of the WW2BW initiative, which are:
• Strengthen national and regional institutional capacity to implement cross-sectorial watershed and marine ecosystem management.
• Facilitate closer cooperation and good governance within and among nations, regional agencies and civil society in coastal and marine resource management, water management, health, environmental protection, agriculture, and urban planning.
• Engage business partners in the major sectors –such as tourism, shipping, fisheries, and agriculture – to – promote best business and environmental practices, and to support regional activities in watershed and coastal management. Table 1 contains a scheme for implementing the sustainable development vision of FUNAVID as articulated by Dr. Dodson and expanded in this report. This scheme addresses both the immediate and long-term aspects of the vision. It consists of four phases: (1) gathering information to plan the use and conservation of land and water resources, (2) the execution of the various resource management activities, (3) monitoring for effects, and (4) synthesis of information.
This scheme is based on the notion that sustainable use of resources requires knowledge of the resources available, use of best science, monitoring of effects to enable adjustments and learning, and synthesis of the experience to enable others to learn from what is being done here.These phases are to be implemented within the 24-km stretch of the north central coast that encompasses watersheds of the five major rivers that are described in the study site location. In short, we propose scientific or adaptive management as the route to follow in the implementation of the vision. The expertise of the IITF that can be brought to the study are the multiple natural resource and watershed based activities identified in Table 1, Step 1. Marine research, those activities that begin at the ocean and encompass the reef system and ocean fisheries, will need to be provided by other appropriate agencies and NGO’s. We further indicate in Table 1 where we believe the local people could benefit from collaboration with outside organizations, including the Institute and other US Government agencies involved in the WW2BW partnership.
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