Roatan, Honduras Photos
Roatan Island is the largest of Honduras' Bay Islands -- measuring roughly 29 miles long and 4 miles wide. Roatan is best known for its fantastic reefs which make it one of the best snokeling and diving destinations in the Caribbean. The island features white sand beaches [West Bay], mangrove forests, and a thriving dive community.
Recommended travel guides on Honduras:
Roatán, located between the islands of Utila and Guanaja, is the largest of Honduras' Bay Islands. It is approximately 60 kilometres long, and less than 8 kilometres wide at its widest point.
The capital and most populated town is Coxen Hole, located in the Southwest of the island. Other important towns include French Harbor and Oak Ridge.
Located near the largest barrier reef in the Caribbean Sea (second largest worldwide after Australia's Great Barrier Reef), it has become an important cruising and diving destination in Honduras. Tourism is its most important economic sector, though fishing is also an important source of income for islanders.
In 1998, the island suffered considerable damage from Hurricane Mitch, temporarily paralyzing most commercial activity.
Tourism and environmental impact
While tourism has strongly contributed towards the economic development of the island, it has also altered Roatan's fragile ecosystem. Land clearing for the construction of residential complexes, as well as improper sewage and garbage disposal methods, have inflicted considerable damage to the island in a time span of less than a decade.
Several efforts by environmental organizations have helped to reduce the adverse environmental impacts. Still, the long-term success of these efforts is uncertain because the inflow of tourism is likely to increase with the completion of a new international airport in the neighboring island of Utila.
Although Spanish is spoken in mainland Honduras, the main language on the island is (creole) English,
Conservation news from Honduras:
Rainforest loss increased in the 2000s, concludes new analysis
Loss of tropical forests accelerated roughly 60 percent during the 2000s, argues a paper published in the journal Geophysical Research Letters. The findings contradict previous research suggesting that deforestation slowed since the 1990s. The study is based on a map of 1990 forest cover developed last year by Do-Hyung Kim and colleagues from the University of Maryland. The map, which includes 34 countries that contain 80 percent of the world's tropical forests, enabled the researchers to establish a consistent baseline for tracking forest cover change across regions and countries over time.
'Exciting implications' for conservation: new technology brings the lab to the field
Times have changed, and technological advancements have scaled down scientific equipment in terms of both size and cost. Among them are the tools and procedures needed to conduct molecular genetic analysis. A study published this week explored the potential applications of this new technology, and found that it allows both researchers and novices alike to analyze DNA in the field easily, cheaply, and effectively.
A new face for palm oil? How a small co-op is changing the industry in Honduras
Expanding oil palm plantations are among the top reasons for deforestation globally, along with cattle ranching, timber, and soy. However, a small palm oil production outfit recently became the first cooperative in the world to achieve Rainforest Alliance certification for sustainable growth of African palms, employing a number of innovations to ensure the prosperity of both forests and local communities.
Cocaine: the new face of deforestation in Central America
In 2006, Mexico intensified its security strategy, forming an inhospitable environment for drug trafficking organizations (also known as DTOs) within the nation. The drug cartels responded by creating new trade routes along the border of Guatemala and Honduras. Soon shipments of cocaine from South America began to flow through the Mesoamerican Biological Corridor (MBC). This multi-national swathe of forest, encompassing several national parks and protected areas, was originally created to protect endangered species, such as Baird's Tapir (Tapirus bairdii) and jaguar (Panthera onca), as well as the world's second largest coral reef. Today, its future hinges on the world's drug producers and consumers.
Camera-traps reveal surprising mammals at remote site in Honduras (photos)
A camera trap survey along the Sikre River in Honduras has discovered that the region is home to a menagerie of rare mammals, including giant anteaters. The survey, published in mongabay.com's open access journal, Tropical Conservation Science, recorded five cat species in 70 square kilometers.
Mesoamerican Reef needs more local support, says report
From massive hotel development through the agriculture industry, humans are destroying the second largest barrier reef in the world: the Mesoamerican Reef. Although global climate change and its effects on reefs via warming and acidification of coastal waters have made recent headlines, local human activities may destroy certain ecosystems before climate change has a chance to do it. The harmful effects of mining, agriculture, commercial development, and fishing in coastal regions have already damaged more than two-thirds of reefs across the Caribbean, in addition to worsening the negative effects of climate change.
Indigenous people of Honduras granted one million hectares of rainforest
One-hundred and fifty years after a treaty with England granted the Miskito people rights over their land--a treaty which was never fully respected--the government of Honduras has officially handed over nearly a million hectares (970,000 hectares) of tropical forest along the Caribbean Coast to the indigenous people. The Miskito are found along the eastern coast of both Honduras and Nicaragua and number around 200,000.
Photo: Stunning new pit-viper discovered in Honduras
A stunning new species of pit-viper has been discovered in the cloud forest of Honduras. The venomous snake is described in the journal ZooKeys.
First strike: nearly 200 illegal loggers arrested in massive sting across 12 countries
One-hundred-and-ninety-seven illegal loggers across a dozen Central and South American countries have been arrested during INTERPOL's first strike against widespread forestry crime. INTERPOL, or The International Criminal Police Organization, worked with local police forces to take a first crack at illegal logging. In all the effort, known as Operation Lead, resulted in the seizure of 50,000 cubic meters of wood worth around $8 million.
Amphibian, tapir paradise in Honduras being ravaged by illegal deforestation
Located in a mountainous area near the border with Guatemala, Cusuco National Park in Honduras is recognized by researchers as a critical refuge for endangered amphibians in a country that has suffered from widespread deforestation. But while the park largely escaped the devastation that has affected other protected areas in Honduras, the situation seems to be changing: since 2010 there has been a sharp increase in deforestation. Poachers, small farmers, and cattle ranchers are moving into the park using a network of research trails and camps established by Operation Wallacea, a British conservation science NGO.
Dry forests disappearing faster than rainforests in Latin America
Countries across Latin America lost 78,000 square kilometers of subtropical and tropical dry broadleaf forests between 2001 and 2010, according to a new satellite-based assessment published in the journal Biotropica.
Earth systems disruption: Does 2011 indicate the "new normal" of climate chaos and conflict?
The year 2011 has presented the world with a shocking increase in irregular weather and disasters linked to climate change. Just as the 2007 "big melt" of summer arctic sea ice sent scientists and environmentalists scrambling to re-evaluate the severity of climate change, so have recent events forced major revisions and updates in climate science.
Honduras protects sharks in all its waters
Endangered sharks are finding more sanctuaries. Honduras has announced that commercial shark fishing will be banned from its 92,665 square miles (240,000 square kilometers) of national waters. Honduras says the ban, which follows a moratorium on shark fishing, will bring in tourism revenue and preserve the marine environment.
Rainforests in Sumatra, Honduras added to UN's danger list
Rainforests in Honduras and on the Indonesian island of Sumatra have been added to the U.N.'s "danger" list due to illegal logging, encroachment, and road contruction, reports UNESCO.
Inga alley cropping: a sustainable alternative to slash and burn agriculture
It has been estimated that as many as 300 million farmers in tropical countries may take part in slash and burn agriculture. A practice that is environmentally destructive and ultimately unstable. However, research funded by the EEC and carried out in Costa Rica in the late 1980s and early 1990s by Mike Hands offers hope that it is possible to farm more successfully and sustainably in these tropical regions.
Felix Death Toll Washes Up on Coastline
Nicaraguan and Honduran officials have announced that upwards of 100 people are confirmed dead, and another 120 still unaccounted for after Hurricane Felix made landfall earlier this week.
Forest fires burn in Central America
Hundreds of fires are burning across Central America according to NASA satellite images and reports from the ground. Fires have been detected in Mexico, Guatemala, El Salvador, Honduras, and Nicaragua.
Illegal timber from Honduras reaching the United States
U.S. companies are unknowingly importing illegal Honduran wood, contributing to deforestation, corruption and poverty in the Latin American country, according to a yearlong undercover investigation by the Center for International Policy and the Environmental Investigation Agency (EIA).
Honduras wins aid pact tied to human rights, anti-corruption efforts
Last month Honduras became to second country to receive aid under the controlversial Millennium Challenge Account program when it signed a five-year $215 million funding deal. The Millennium Challenge Account gives grants to countries committed to respecting the rule of law and reducing corruption.
Honduran priest recognized as environmental hero with $125,000 award
On April 18th, 2005, Father JosĂ© AndrĂ©s Tamayo Cortez was awarded the prestigious Goldman Environmental Prize. The Prize recognizes individuals for sustained and significant efforts to preserve and enhance the natural environment, often at great personal risk. Each winner receives an award of $125,000, the largest of its kind.
The Next Costa Rica? Environmental activism takes root in Honduras
With its biodiversity, rich history, beautiful beaches, and stunning reefs, some believe Honduras could be the ecotourism hotspot in Central America. However, between growing gang violence linked to the drug trade in the United States and conflicts between developers and local communities, the country still faces many challenges in becoming the next Costa Rica. Special correspondent Tina Butler takes a look at changing attitudes about the environment in one of Central America's poorest countries.