Study Site Location and Partnership Efforts
The study site is located in the central part of the Caribbean lowlands (North Coast), east of La Ceiba and within the Colón administrative department of Honduras. Honduras is administratively divided into eighteen departments or distritos (States), each with a designated department capital. FUNAVID owns a 500- hectare watershed in the Ceiba (western) sector of the Municipality of Balfate, Distrito de Colón. The coastal property includes an ample beachfront sector.
Over the past 5 years, the FUNAVID has invested over a million U.S. dollars to secure this strategic coastal watershed and develop the supporting infrastructure to conduct sustainable agriculture experimentation, evaluation, training and deployment of successful practices across the north central coastal basin to control land-base sources of pollution to the adjoining marine systems. FUNAVID has been successful in establishing a trust relationship with community leaders in a 24-km stretch of this coast. This trust relationship has been built through direct contact, conducting listening sessions in order to understand the problems of residents and farmers, hosting training sessions conducted by university experts and FUNAVID staff, as well as, providing humanitarian aid to residents.
The 24-km stretch of the north central coast encompasses watersheds of five major rivers that flow directly into the Gulf of Honduras. These rivers are the: río Lis Lis, río Esteban, río Bejucale, río Lucinda, and río Coco. FUNAVID and its outreach program could easily transfer the successful employment of the experimental alleycropping agroforestry system that has been under study at the CURLA National University Experimental Agricultural Station to a large coastal area of Honduras. This partnership relationship of CURLA National University and FUNAVID appears to be strong and could be very affective in providing over time a unique 24-km study area to look at the control of land-based sources of pollution to the adjoining marine systems. Directly off shore of the entire North Coast is the Honduran coral reef system, which is a part of the Mesoamerican Reef (MAR; Appendix 4).
This 24-km stretch of the north central coast has a very narrow coastal plain only a few kilometers wide. This subsistence agriculture, with small-sized holdings, primitive technology, and low productivity that traditionally accompany hillside cultivation has been relegated to the steep slopes of the incised valleys that drain into the five major river systems or directly into the coastal marine system through small creeks. The non-point source sedimentation that is presently being produced from this hillside slash and burn cultivation practices is having devastating effects on the off shore coral reef system.
Approximately 19 km due north from the described project site and located on the continental shelf is the Cayos Cochinos Islands. The Cayos Cochinos lie within the Mesoamerican reef (MAR; Appendix 4) and are designated a biological reserve. Beyond Cayos Cochinos about 29 km to the north and separated by a deep trough of 425 meters lays the Island of Roatan. On October 25, 1998, Hurricane Mitch had formed into the fourth strongest Atlantic hurricane on record; a category 5 hurricane with 288+ km/h wind speed and estimated wave heights of 15 meters. Mitch turned out to be extremely devastating leaving in its wake 11,00 people dead and 2 million people homeless throughout the countries of Honduras, Nicaragua, El Salvador, and Guatemala. A supplemental Congressional budget allocation allowed the USAID to provide assistance to Mitch-affected countries earmarked funds for use by the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) to established a network of early detection systems, collection of water-quality information, and assessment of post Mitch damage to coastal resources, such as corral reefs, seagrass beds, and mangrove forests (http://coastal. er.usgs.gov/publications/ofr/01-133/info-sheet.html).
La Ceiba Cayos Cochinos Trujillo The marine and terrestrial areas of the project site are within the orange boundary. Cayos Cochinos are in the upper left area near the boundary. The town of La Ceiba is located about 12 km west of the study site boundary.
This study in Honduras that is being proposed by FUNAVID and CURLA National University (UNAHCURLA) provides an opportunity to tie in with the research and monitoring that was started by the USGS in the Cayo Cochinos. Furthermore, in the keynote address at the WW2BW conference Vice Admiral Lautenbacher, Undersecretary of Commerce for Oceans and Atmosphere, charged the conference participants to move forward, to develop partnerships that will serve three strategic goals: (1) improve the quality of life, work and benefit from those vibrant coastal areas, (2) preserve the vital natural heritage for our children and grandchildren, and (3) establish a prototype for facilitating partnerships to improve and protect marine and coastal ecosystems here and in other parts of the world. The study that is being proposed captures the spirit of what Admiral Lautenbacher challenged country participants and country teams to do in the WW2BW sustainable development partnership.