Co-Manager of Pico Pijol National Park, Yoro, Honduras

In the town of Morazán Honduras, with Pico Pijol mountain in the background, the mayors of the municipalities of Yoro, Victoria, El Negrito, and Morazán joined with the Minister of the Forests, Wildlife and Protected Areas, Cooperative COMISUYL, Vision Mundial Honduras, AECOPIJOL and the Mesoamerican Development Institute (MDI) to sign a co-management agreement for Pico Pijol National Park. On August 29th, 2013, MDI became the first international organization to enter a co-management agreement with Honduras.

MDI and the organization of small coffee producers, Cooperative COMISUYL, are introducing new ways of growing and processing coffee that eliminate the use of firewood in drying and provide an alternative to coffee monoculture in cloud forests in the buffer zone of the national park. With market support from an alliance of coffee roaster/distributors including Merchants of Green Coffee in Toronto, Casa Progreso in Gothenburg Sweden, and Red Barn Coffee Roasters in Massachusetts, the alliance is creating a new and alternative model for the coffee sector worldwide. The Honduran Forest Service has identified expanding coffee production and the use of wood in drying the annual harvest as the primary threat to Pico Pijol National Park (and others), as the region has increased coffee production significantly over the past five years.

Signing All

Signing ceremony of co-manejo agreement for Pico Pijol National Park in Morazan, Honduras

The concept of co-management, shared responsibility between the public (government) and private (civil society), is one of the solutions to promote a participatory, decentralized, democratic conservation and development oriented model. Co-management is a method to develop synergy and win-win scenarios, which complement and multiply the capabilities and benefits for all parties.

The objective is to promote the conservation and sustainable management of Pico Pijol National Park through legal and technical implementation of the shared management of the area, including:

  • protection of ecosystems
  • scientific research
  • environmental education
  • recreation, eco-tourism
  • participatory management of natural resources
  • improving the quality of life of the inhabitants

Forest and Water Resources of Pico Pijol National Park

The park includes important cloud forests that are the source of drinking water for four municipalities as well as the watershed for the Cuyamapa Hydroelectric Project, a 12 MW power station in the towns of Subirana and El Salto. In addition to forests and watersheds, the Park is home to wildlife of all sorts, from hundreds of bird species to the jaguar. The buffer zone of the park is the source of much of the coffee processed and exported by Cooperative COMISUYL. The buffer zone of the park is 10,164,591 hectares; the nucleus of the park is 1,343,567 hectares, for a combined total of 11,508,158 hectares.

Planting Coffee at High Elevation

High elevation coffee planted in place of forest in the buffer zone of Pico Pijol National Park

With increasing demand for high-quality coffee, coffee production is rapidly expanding Central America. This region is now the world’s second largest producer (after Brazil) with Honduras number one in production. As coffee production increases, forests are being impacted in the following two ways:

  1. High altitude forests, a key to water resources and critical habitat supporting the regions biodiversity, are being clear cut and planted for coffee.
  2. Increased coffee production demands more firewood for drying the harvest in mechanical dryers. An area of forest equivalent to the total area of certified shade coffee is lost each year to supply the wood for the highly energy-intensive drying process.

This double jeopardy is putting tropical forests at risk—forests that are critical to abating climate change with their vast reserves of sequestered carbon. As only roughly 2% of forests are protected under conservation, and coffee can represent nearly 38% of the agricultural landscape, forestry experts and policymakers are looking to address these issues through the creation and expansion of our alternative model that minimizes coffee production’s threat to forest habitat. Together, with your support for Café Solar®, we are creating a new model—use of renewable energy instead of burning wood; facilities operated by local youth and managed by women; and the introduction of forest-friendly Integrated Open Canopy™ (IOC) production for coffee and biofuels.

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  • protects tropical forests and creates rich, biodiverse growing conditions around coffee farms.
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