Lancetilla Biological Reserve
The Lancetilla Biological Reserve is located approximately five kilometers from the town of Tela. It is located with in the Atlantida Department. The reserve itself is the hills surrounding the Lancetilla Botanical Gardens, research station, and Arboretum.
William Popenoe of the United Fruit company set up the Garden in 1925. It was designed as a research station for testing different varieties of bananas. He later brought in other fruits and plants from all over the world. In 1941 Popenoe left the United Fruit. Various companies and the government continued the research.
ESNASFOR took over the station in 1974. Research is still being done in the reserve and in the research stations. The reserve is still used today by many students doing research.
The ecosystem with in the reserve is tropical and subtropical humid rain forest. There is anywhere from 300 (approximately) to 4000 various species of plant life with in the reserve. Very few plants within the reserve have been identified. Some of the plants and trees have plaques. The plaques are color-coded. Yellow plaques mean the plant or tree has ornamental value. If the plaque is green it means the tree is a hardwood. If the plaque is red it means that it bears fruit. If the plaque is black it means that the tree or plant is poisonous.
There is no definite information as to when exactly the Lancetilla Biological Reserve originated. Many of the reserves originated as "paper parks". The parks were marked on paper without being surveyed. Many of these parks are where people have lived for many years. Law requires the inhabitants to move out of the core zone into the buffer zone. In the beginning there was little if no enforcement of the conservation laws that were passed. In some cases the local government was so corrupt that if enough money was evolved the contractor or timber company got the timber or resources they desired anyway.
Today many non-governmental organizations (NGO's) are teaching the people conservation and good land management skills. They are also empowering the people to take control or responsibility of the land that they are using. This teaches them that they do have a stake or a role in the future of the land and resources. Even the children are being taught conservation at an early age. They are also teaching them that if they stand together as a community so that they will have a stronger voice.
The Honduran government began establishing protected areas in the 1950's. In 1987 the Cloud Forest law added more protected areas. Everything above a certain elevation was designated a park. These were known as 'paper parks'. These parks were drawn on maps w/o researching or surveying actual land. This caused numerous problems. People lived in these areas depended on these resources that the forest provided them. The government moved the people from the core zones to the buffer zones. Also, the government did not budget money or resources to protect these areas properly. The people who were in power were those who only serve their interests (cattle ranchers, and loggers) and not those of the people. So few laws were passed to help protect these areas.
The government created agencies like CODHEFOR to manage the parks. They were designed to manage the protected areas. Instead they sell the timber they are supposed to protect. Like many agencies within the government it became corrupt and did not enforce what laws do exist.