Comayagua-Honduras. The National Institute of Conservation and Forest Development, through the Sub-Directorate of Protected Areas and Wildlife of Honduras, has issued a certificate declaring a Forest Protection Zone for the Cerro Azul and Varsovia micro-watershed in the municipality of Taulabe, within the Comayagua department.
This river basin of the Ulúa River, at an elevation between 961 to 1,374 meters above sea level, covers an area of 16,449.1 hectares, benefiting approximately 1,025 inhabitants, equivalent to about 320 families in the region.
The certification establishes an agreement between ICF and the municipality of Taulabe, where the forestry institute commits to supporting the community in managing the natural resources of the micro-watershed in the communities of Cerro Azul and Varsovia. It will also provide support through its regional offices located in the cities of Comayagua and Siguatepeque.
Likewise, it will offer technical assistance for the development of a biophysical and socioeconomic study, a micro-watershed action plan, and direct training for the community to establish forest management frameworks that ensure effective protection of the mentioned area.
Similarly, the area will be included in operational plans as a priority zone for forest protection and natural resource management. This will involve supporting the communities and the municipality of Taulabe in forming, managing, and executing projects for the managed area under the current agreement.
On its part, the municipality of Taulabe is responsible for executing all protection, conservation, and reforestation actions outlined in projects, consultations, and forestry professional plans within the jurisdiction established according to the described laws. The goal is to protect the ecosystem and environment within its municipal jurisdiction.
Equally, the municipality will carry out actions related to water and resource management in the Cerro Azul and Varsovia micro-watershed, applying legal measures for actions that could harm the designated area and violate the terms of the present agreement.
Regarding the topic, Ramón Emanuel Padilla Martínez, Head of the Environmental Unit (UMA) of the municipality of Taulabe, stated that it’s a technical, legal, and administrative process that will occur through requests from communities interested in declaring their micro-watersheds and water sources as mineral-producing zones, protected areas, or zones free from any human activity.
«The process began in 2022, organized in the communities of Cerro Azul and Varsovia. The request was submitted to the Taulabe municipality, then redirected to ICF, and the process was followed, accompanied by Aldea Global, which is also a fundamental pillar in the co
management of the protected area of Cerro Azul Meambar National Park, as the micro-watershed is part of the protected area’s influence zone,» he explained.
«On July 27th of this year, we received the pleasant news that the process had successfully concluded. It was a somewhat lengthy process involving socialization with the communities involved, establishing the area as a water-producing zone. Therefore, deforestation, agricultural cultivation, housing, and any other human activity are prohibited,» he warned.
In this sense, the UMA head mentioned that Mayor Denis Membreño of Taulabe is very eager and concerned about continuing these micro-watershed declaration processes. Four more will be initiated starting this year, benefiting the communities of Las Conchas and Terrero Blanco, as well as two more located in the Cerro Azul Meambar National Park.
«We’ve had requests from other communities that have entered the same micro-watershed declaration process. In some cases, it’s feasible, and the process is more immediate because the communities own the land. In other cases, the process is more extensive because land acquisition is necessary,» he explained.
«This declaration for the municipality of Taulabe is historic because it’s the first of its kind in the entire municipality. These types of declarations have existed in the country for over 20 years, but unfortunately, in our municipality, no micro-watershed had been declared until July of this year when this significant achievement took place,» he asserted.
Padilla emphasized that land ownership was a fundamental pillar in the processes, as communities are not always owners of water sources. In this case, the community, through the Taulabe municipality, made the necessary effort to acquire the land and declare it a protected zone.
«From now on, the work of the communities will continue with their water boards, local councils, and the Environmental Unit to create an action plan that outlines activities within the micro-watersheds. This includes reforestation efforts if there are degraded areas and ongoing socialization to inform the population about the declared micro-watershed area,» he concluded. E.P.Com.