Tawahka Asangni Biosphere, Honduras

Help Conserve the Home of the Tawahka People

The Tawahka Asangni Biosphere is located in the eastern region of Honduras near the border of Nicaragua, and consists of more than 494,200 acres (nearly 200,000 hectares). The Biosphere contains an extraordinary wealth of natural resources and wildlife, including white-tailed deer, scarlet macaws, jaguars, tapirs and iguanas, as well as thousands of plant species such as orchids and kapok trees. During the last 500 years, the indigenous Tawahka people have been in charge of managing the Biosphere, but a process of uncontrolled agriculture colonization has been a major cause of deforestation in the area.

The Tawahka Asangni Biosphere is now facing its biggest challenge: how to conserve its biodiversity while satisfying the material needs and desires of its increasing number of human inhabitants. Over 420,000 acres (170,000 hectares) of primary forest have been destroyed due to extensive cattle ranching, unsustainable agriculture, timber harvesting and gold mining. The human pressure on the soil and water resources has dramatically changed the ecosystems of this area. In just a few years, precious plant and animal species have begun to disappear, land has lost its fertility and the rivers are less abundant. Both the ecosystems and the human inhabitants of the area have suffered greatly from these changes.

In June 2003, the Institute for Cooperation and Self-Development (ICADE) received Honduras' National Prize for the Environment for their efforts to stop the destruction of the Biosphere. Since 2000, ICADE has slowed destruction of the reserve by promoting an alliance among the indigenous Tawahkas, the cattle ranchers, local communities and the wood industry. ICADE has proven that socioeconomic development can occur while still conserving natural resources and maintaining cultural values. ICADE's objective is to demonstrate to the Biosphere inhabitants that they can maintain their traditions while improving their economic situation by utilizing culturally and environmentally sound technologies.

Currently, ICADE is working to strengthen this alliance with an endorsement from the national government in order to address old and new threats to the Biosphere. Their work is constantly challenged, as wood traffickers continue to destroy the Biosphere in search of mahogany and other precious woods. Globalization of the economy creates a voracious appetite for the destruction of the Biosphere as a source of potential food, medicinal fibers and primary materials for industry, construction and the generation of electricity.

This beautiful reserve will disappear in just a few years if the destruction isn't stopped. By improving the lives of the Biosphere inhabitants, ICADE hopes they will in turn become committed to protecting the Biosphere and seek out new environmental management and land rights. Your donation will support the work of ICADE, including land management and purchase, as well as community conservation projects that will ensure the Tawahka Asangni Biosphere will continue to be a place where the Tawahka people and the wildlife of Honduras can continue to call home.

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