The Plight of the Rio Plátano Biosphere Reserve

September 7th, 2011

Ever since I was in high school I’ve heard stories about the Rio Plátano Biosphere Reserve, a protected area in eastern Honduras. The Plátano river flows through the remote Mosquitia region, the largest rainforest in Honduras, and home to countless species of birds, mammals and insects. It is also home to the remnant of native Americans in Honduras. Today, la Gringa, an American blogger from La Ceiba, Honduras, blogged about the reserve, so I joined in: more people need to know about what is going on there.

In the last 15 years, la Mosquitia has seen the invasion of “narcos”, who use the area to smuggle drugs, and have thus scared away the government, creating a anarchic no-man’s-land. The people of La Mosquitia are used to this, however, because their remote location is all but overlooked by the government.

As a consequence of this, hundreds, or maybe thousands of hunters, loggers and ranchers abuse this protected area with impunity. Fishermen throw dynamite into the river, killing all the fish instantly, and leaving a sterile ecosystem in their wake. Loggers indiscriminately cut down priceless trees leaving no new trees to replace them. Honduran mahogany, swietenia macrophylla is very expensive, and thus, a prized target.

All that is needed to prevent this is a force of, lets say 20 or 30 armed park rangers. Perhaps they would need military support at first, but once the inertia is overcome, they could probably protect the forest on their own.

But that’s the last thing the narcos want: the military in their forest hideaway.

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