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Guatemala

Gulf of Honduras

The Gulf of Honduras is a marine and terrestrial site located in eastern Guatemala. The Nature Conservancy and its partner, Fundación para el Desarrollo y la Conservación (FUNDAECO), are working to conserve the Gulf of Honduras including the Cerro San Gil Protected Area, which is one of the last remaining tracts of very humid tropical forests within the Central American isthmus. Cerro San Gil also includes important fresh water springs, bird sanctuaries and mangroves.

Location

Located on the Atlantic coast of Guatemala between Belize and Honduras, Cerro San Gil comprises more than 19,000 acres of lush rainforest in the Mico Mountains. Intense humidity and rainfall combined with elevations in excess of 3,900 feet have created a unique zone with extraordinary biological value.

Animals

The Gulf of Honduras is refuge to 56 species of mammals including the tapir, manatee and the jaguar and more than 50 species of reptiles and amphibians including:

  • Morelet's crocodile
  • hawksbill turtle

More than 350 species of birds are found here, including the keel-billed motmot and the black and white hawk eagle. Over 90 neotropical migrants winter in the area and include the wood thrush and blue-winged warbler.

Plant Communities

Mangroves, sea grasses, and flooded coastal forests.

Why the Conservancy Works Here

The Gulf of Honduras faces a wide array of threats including:

  • overfishing
  • marine pollution
  • infrastructure development
  • deforestation.

Between 1954 and 1989, over half of Guatemala's forests disappeared, mainly due to logging and the advance of the agricultural frontier. Communities in the Cerro San Gil region are feeling the secondary effects of deforestation in the form of rainfall reduction.

What the Conservancy Is Doing

The Conservancy and local partner FUNDAECO purchased approximately 9,000 acres to consolidate the Cerro San Gil National Protected Area (most of it in the Prístino Forest nucleus of the region). The Conservancy helped acquire a 1,223-acre tract of forest in the vital watershed of Las Escobas, a basin that provides water to nearby towns.

The Nature Conservancy's Mashomack Preserve in New York is working with the Conservancy's Guatemalan staff to help purchase land, buy equipment and train land stewards in the Cerro San Gil/Gulf of Honduras region of Guatemala.

During the last three years, the Conservancy's Guatemala program in partnership with the Conservancy's Tennessee Chapter, has been supporting FUNDAECO's Bird Migration Program in Cerro San Gil. As a result of this program, FUNDAECO has identified priority areas for monitoring and conservation and they have recorded species new to Cerro San Gil.

The Conservancy is also working in collaboration with the World Wildlife Fund and local organizations in the Gulf of Honduras, through the USAID-funded PROARCA - APM project (Protected Areas and Green Markets). The goals of the project are to promote the knowledge and implementation of ecologically-friendly product opportunities within and surrounding the reefs, to develop a regional initiative for the conservation of the Mesoamerican Reef System, and to develop the technical abilities of key stakeholders.

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