"Mangrove forests are one of the most productive and biodiverse wetlands on earth" says the Mangrove Action Project (MAP), "Yet, these unique coastal tropical forests are among the most threatened habitats in the world. They may be disappearing more quickly than inland tropical rainforests, and so far, with little public notice." Shrimp farming is one of the major threats faced by mangroves in many countries. The article below is one of many to be found on the MAP website. Please respond to the Action Alert at the end of the article and check out the MAP website for more information about mangroves throughout the tropics.
1000th RAMSAR Site Imperiled By Government Complacency
In May of 1999, the Honduran government, through the Secretary of Natural Resourse and Environment (SERNA), fulfilled its obligations to the Ramsar convention on world wetlands protection, by officially designating over 75,000 ha of coastal wetlands of the Gulf of Fonseca as the 1000th Ramsar site.
This momentous designation of Ramsar's 1000th wetlands site of international importance was a distinguished accord that Honduras and the international community reached in order to promote effective and timely wetlands conservation.
In this particular case, the designation concerns important coastal natural resources such as mangrove forests, perennial or transient lagoons, estuaries and the rich biological diversity that exists in these ecosystems. Nevertheless, Honduras has not fulfilled its obligations to protect this Ramsar site #1000 in the Gulf of Fonseca. Therefore, active destruction by developers prevailed, causing about 50 to 100 ha of mangrove loss and degradation of the protected site, including drying up of some of the wetland areas. This clearly demonstrates the ineptitude or complacency of the same governmental authorities.
In THE AREA OF HABITAT AND SPECIES MANAGEMENT of San Lorenzo, especially in "La Aguadera", Punta Ratón, a shrimp farm project has been established within a site reslting in the clearing of several hectares of beautiful mangrove forest. The developers at this site operated with obvious impunity.
LAS IGUANAS Y PUNTA CONDEGA has been destroyed in the place known as "El Gorrion" (the Sparrow), where they have started a massive clearcut of the mangrove trees, and it is possible to see this destruction from the higway toward Guapinol, Choluteca.
Also, on March 16th many men and a tractor were found cutting in the "El Carey": zone, close to Guapinol. A member of CODDEFFAGOLF who went there to investigate was threatened. A few days later, when two employees of the Environmental Attorney visited this scene, they were themselves threatened and expulsed from the place by the pillagers. Five days later, these officials returned with some police officers and they found four tractors operating. Even then, they could not halt the operations for long, as the developers boasted that nobody will stop them because they were well "protected' and soon they would have six tractors operating, to acomplish what they have to do.
In the Species and Habitat Management Area, known as La Berberia, there has been reported in some places the destruction of mangroves, and flooded sites like "Los Comejenes", with the purpose of building more shrimp farms. Meanwhile, the traffic along the constructed highway between Honduras and Nicaragua is constant, degrading the ecosystem around the border with Nicaragua.
The real intention of the Honduran government to protect the Coastal wetlands of the Gulf of Fonseca is evidently reflected in the fact that they selected as the General Director of Aquaculture and Fisheries a person who has been previously denounced several times by CODDEFFAGOLF as a trader of such wetlands.
In the cause of all we have attempted before to stimulate the Honduran goverment to accomplish its obligations it has committed to with the International community and its own people, CODDEFFAGOLF is denouncing this same governement for demonstrating its lack of responsability in attempting to accomplish its stated commitments it made before the Ramsar Convention and its own people when disrespecting the Decree #5-99-E, referring to the Declaration of the Protected Natural Areas of the Gulf of Fonseca.
Please write letters of protest and fax these to the Honduran government, asking that the government effectively protect this important mangrove wetlands area. Ask that the government honor its stated commitment which declared the area of the Gulf of Fonseca as the1000th RAMSAR wetlands site of international importance.
His Excellency, President Carlos Roberto Flores
Tel: (504) 221-4547
Fax: (504) 235-6949
Rafael Pineda Ponce
President of the Honduran National Congress
Tel. (504) 220-6881
Fax. (504) 238-6048
His Excellency, President Carlos Roberto Flores:
Rafael Pineda Ponce 10/04/00
President of the Honduran National Congress
Honorable Mr. President of the National Congress
We are writing you out of deep concern for the mangrove forest of your nation, especially in relation to the region around the Gulf of Fonseca. While we commend your leadership for the passage of Decree # 5-99-E which protects 75,000 precious hectares of wetlands in the Gulf of Fonseca, in the face of recent developments, we must question the commitment of Honduras to honor its obligations under the Ramsar Convention for the Protection of the Wetlands of the World which designated the coastal wetlands of the Gulf of Fonseca, or Ramsar Site 1000, as a protected area.
We would also like to register our concern and direct your attention to the fact that the protected status of certain areas is being compromised as a result of the following activities:
* A shrimp farm was constructed in the project site of "Habitat And Species Management Area In San Lorenzo" in La Aguadera, Punta Raton,
* Several mangrove areas and swamps have been destroyed to construct shrimp ponds in the project site of "La Berberia Habitat and Species Management Area " in Los Comejenes, * In the zone "El Carey", a group of men who were being stopped from felling trees with tractors threatened a CODDEFFAGOLF member and expelled and two government officials from the Environment Attorney s Office. These men even intensified the felling of trees by using a total of six tractor despite the fact that they were admonished by policemen not to do so,
* Trees have been felled in "El Gorrion", the location for the project "Las Iguanas Y Punta De Condega Habitat And Species Management Area", and * The constant use of the highway along the lagoon of La Barberia along the Nicaraguan border has greatly damaged the coastal ecosystem.
*We urge you to please ensure the enforcement of Decree # 5-99-E, the shrimp ponds within the protected areas be removed, and the disturbed wetlands be rehabilitated.
Note: Please send a copy of your message to this address
Lic. Jorge Varela Márquez
Tegucigalpa, Honduras, C.A.