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In Honduras, Communities Focus on Sustainability

Published: November 2010

Home to white-lipped peccaries, Baird's tapirs, white-faced capuchin monkeys and hundreds of bird species, Honduras' Río Plátano Biosphere Reserve anchors the forests of the wider Muskitia region, which is 80% forested and accounts for more than a quarter of the forest remaining in the country.

Honduras had the highest deforestation rate anywhere in the Americas during 2005-2010. The forests of the Muskitia are suffering from rapid forest conversion, which is driven primarily by cattle ranching and, increasingly, oil palm.

With the support of the Avery Dennison Foundation, as well as the Inter-American Development Bank, the Rainforest Alliance is collaborating with communities in the Muskitia to defend their natural forests and earn a sustainable livelihood from the sale of timber and other forest products.

Throughout the Muskitia, we are working with both indigenous and mestizo cooperatives to develop locally-controlled forest enterprises. Several of these operations have achieved Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) certification, which helps them market their products to the increasing number of buyers demanding responsibly produced goods.

Several communities have steady buyers for their wood products – including US companies that have a growing demand for certified mahogany for use in musical instruments, as well as domestic buyers of high-end furniture.

In a region where illegal logging is rampant, local communities are demonstrating that the sustainable harvesting and processing of mahogany and other forest products not only brings economic benefits but is also a viable strategy for conserving biodiversity and mitigating climate change.

The money earned from the sale of the Muskitia's timber and non-timber products allows communities, local organizations and families to invest in education and other social development projects.

As pressures mount for conversion of natural forests, Rainforest Alliance is supporting both cooperatives and indigenous territories in their work to defend forest rights through building up competitive local enterprises based on sustainable forest harvesting.

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