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When Manuel Zelaya was sworn in as Honduran President in 2006, he promised he would bring an end to the illegal logging that ravaged the country. Read more

A Global Witness investigation uncovered that just a few months later the state forest authority effectively legalised mahogany that had been illegally logged in Río Plátano, the country’s largest protected area, as part of a plan to launder ‘abandoned’ timber. As a result, timber traffickers made up to US$1 million.

Honduras is the third poorest country in Latin America. Its forests cover nearly half the country and are a hotbed of corruption and crime.  Criminal activity in Honduras’ forests is stripping the country of its natural wealth, deepening poverty in rural areas, and causing violent social unrest, as forest communities are pitted against timber gangs.

Hondurans seeking to defend their rights to their forests and their land face alarmingly high levels of threats, intimidation, attacks and killings. Our 2013 Deadly Environment report found that Honduras was the second most deadly country on the planet to be an environmental or land defender, with 109 known killings between 2002 and 2013. We are monitoring this situation with a view to investigating the root causes of the violence.

Global Witness is also supporting efforts towards reforms that give local people more say in how their forests are managed. As part of the EU’s Forest Law Enforcement, Governance and Trade (FLEGT) programme, Global Witness has funded Honduran groups working to reduce illegal logging in the country.

These organisations create a platform for all actors, including indigenous groups who have a stake in Honduras’ forests, to air their concerns around illegal logging. Through this programme it is hoped that the Honduran government starts taking steps towards recognising local peoples’ rights to their forest.