Welcome to the Rainforest Saver Newsletter no. 49. February 2014. Highlights of 2013. Part 2. Honduras
The FunaVid area includes a small watershed of about 200 hectares on the North coast of Honduras, mostly on the mountain. The purchase of about 11 hectares at the top of this Mountain in 2013 (with assistance from various sources including RFS) completed FunaVid’s ownership of the watershed, except for the plots of three farmers, who are also willing to plant Inga. FunaVid are setting up a large, visible demonstration area of Inga alley cropping near the top of this mountain, including a seed orchard and nursery, and reforesting the rest of the area.
Top of the FunaVid mountain, showing how erosion will be curbed with reforestation and Inga alley cropping so that much less sediment will be washed down the mountain streams to smother the coral reef. Photo Tiiu Miller 2009
Map of FunaVid watershed. Sediment washed down ends up smothering the coral reef, which is not in a good state.
View from the shore/sea, showing how visible the Inga demonstration area will be. A road runs along the edge of the field. Photo Tiiu Miller 2009.
The Inga demonstration area is clearly visible from afar. It will be used to promote this better farming technique to replace the disastrous slash and burn currently practiced widely in Honduras and elsewhere.
Areal view of North Honduras showing the deforestation due to slash and burn farming. Photo Tiiu Miller 2013.
Slash and burn farming, areal view of a river coloured by the sediment washed down by rain when the ground is left bare, and the ultimate result of repeated slash and burn farming. Photos Rick Seal 2011, Tiiu Miller 2013, and Trees for the Future, http://www.treesforthefuture.org/.
A large part of the newly purchased area will be reforested with bird and wildlife friendly species. But the large Inga facility will demonstrate that Inga alleys also prevent erosion. Thus the watershed will be stabilized in a way that shows that we don’t have to stop farming to save the environment.
It is hoped to show that when we thus stabilize the ground the reduction in the amount of sediment washed down into the sea will benefit the coral reef, which appears to be in a poor state. It is being assessed in association with the marine biology department at CURLA (part of the National University of Honduras). A preliminary assessment has been done, and will be repeated in the future to see what difference the Inga and reforestation will make.
The recently acquired boat (free from the government, who confiscated it from drug traffickers) for marine research, and a view over the Caribbean from the FunaVid mountain. One can just make out the darker area of the coral reef. Photos Tiiu Miller 2013.
A substantial seed orchard was planted on the low, flat ground near the shore in 2013. There is also an accompanying nursery nearby. This will be invaluable for completing the Inga planting on top of the mountain, and then for providing local farmers with seed/seedlings. Dr. Dodson will be demonstrating the Inga system to 50 – 100 local pastors and other community leaders once the facility is fully functional.
Students working in the Inga seed orchard. This will first supply the rest of the planting on the mountain, and then the many local farmers that will be introduced to the system once the demo area is ready. Dr. Dodson on the right. Photo Tiiu Miller 2013
Rainforest has been allowed to regrow on much of the FunaVid mountain, with wildlife and birds returning to the area, and much of the newly purchased area will also be reforested. As the reforestation will be done in association with enabling the farmers to farm the same plot of land continuously with Inga they will not need to cut and burn the forest to get fertile land. So the forest is likely to survive. In other places reforested areas have been burned by poor farmers needing new fertile land.
Eco-tourism is another facet of the FunaVid project. This will give the local people further incentive to maintain the forest. An eco-tourist trail will be built right up the mountain, to the Inga demo area. This will also help to publicize the Inga. Regrettably progress with this has been slow in 2013 because of extensive rain, which made working on the mountain dangerous.
But there has been good progress with extending and renovating a house on the FunaVid premises. This serves both as student and tourist accommodation. The house is now finished and students and visitors have slept there.
The renovated house with four bedrooms, all with en suite shower and toilet facilities, for student and tourist accommodation. Photos Tiiu Miller 2013.
The monkey that looked in through the bedroom window at FunaVid. Photo Zoie Goebel 2013. There is plenty of wildlife at FunaVid, and even a black jaguar has been sighted.
The environmental teaching has continued. Another successful internship was carried out at FunaVid, and a total of six school Inga plots have been planted. Two of these were planted in 2012, and four in 2013. The first plot was pruned in September.
Another successful internship was carried out at FunaVid in September. These are the internship students, and Ruth and Maritza, the invaluable kitchen staff, in the foreground. Photo Dr. Dodson 2013.
Pruning the first school Inga plot at the Diamante de Sion school. Dr. Guillermo Valle is explaining things on the left, and one alley has been pruned on the right, showing the large pile of firewood that was obtained. Photos Tiiu Miller.
FunaVid attended a big conference on sustainable development in Honduras in September, and gave a short presentation of their work. The conference was very useful for networking and publicising the work.
FunaVid stand at the Conference on Honduras. From the left: Mrs. Dodson, Dr. Dodson and Mrs. Adriana Ramos. Photo Tiiu Miller 2013.
As a separate project, the Inga plantation on a farmer’s very sloping ground is doing well. The Inga trees have grown a lot. The plantation is overlooked by many neighbouring farmers on the surrounding mountain sides. So far at least two neighbouring farmers are seriously interested in planting Inga alleys. We expect much more interest when crops have been grown.
A tall row of Inga on the farmer’s plot.
The Inga nursery on the farmer’s plot, from which seedlings will be distributed to neighbouring farmers.
We thank all who have supported this work. We depend on individual donations and fund raising by our members. We have no government grants. Please make a donation or do some fund raising for us if you are able. You can donate using any credit card on our website www.rainforestsaver.org