Over half of Honduras, the third poorest country in Latin America, is covered by forests. The country relies heavily on external aid and suffers from a drastically unequal distribution of income. Poverty levels have remained virtually unchanged for the last decade and are highest in forest-rich areas. Illegal logging is rife and results not only in loss of much-needed revenue, but also environmental damage and social unrest.
Following various visits to the country, Global Witness and the Honduran National Commission for Human Rights (CONADEH) signed an agreement to pilot Independent Forest Monitoring in May 2005.
The main objectives of the project were:
- To generate reliable information about illegal logging and its associated trade in Olancho Department, which contains one of the largest areas of conifer forests in the country and is being subjected to intensive logging;
- To ensure the objectivity and transparency of monitoring operations undertaken by the Forest Authority;
- To strengthen the operational capacity of the Forest Authority through undertaking joint field missions and sharing experience and skills.
Between May 2005 and April 2006, Global Witness and CONADEH produced 14 field mission reports, a first summary report of activities and a second summary report. The project was warmly welcomed by the Forest Authority, civil society and some elements in the industry, who all voiced a need to implement long-term IFM in Honduras.
Joint work between Global Witness and CONADEH also provided the opportunity to build the latter's capacity in monitoring techniques and gradually hand over to them the leadership of the project.
In April 2006, CONADEH and the Forest Authority signed an agreement for a further year of IFM work in the country, which included a substantial increase in human resources and area covered by the project. Mission reports continue to be produced regularly and are publicly available on CONADEH's website.
More recently, Global Witness has been complementing the IFM work by continuing to undertake its own investigations in Honduras, documenting illegality, poor governance and mismanagement in the forest sector. We are supporting efforts towards reforms that guarantee preservation of Honduran forests, respect for local people, and equity and transparency in the distribution of revenues.
In January 2009, Global Witness published the report “Illegal logging in the Rio Plátano Biosphere. A farce in three acts”, which exposes how governance failure resulted in illegal logging of large amounts of mahogany in the country’s biggest protected area. Click here to read the full report and the press release.
Mission reports of the independent monitor are available here.
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Honduras: A farce in three acts
Poor governance in forest management in Honduras is threatening Río Plátano, the country’s largest protected area and a UNESCO-accredited Man and the Biosphere Reserve, and jeopardising the livelihoods of local communities.
Independent Forest Monitoring (IFM)
Forests have continued to degrade and disappear for decades despite numerous efforts to protect them. One of the elements undermining such efforts is poor governance. Addressing this is essential to protecting the remaining forests from destruction.