Montaña de Vida - Mountain of Life
Rising majestically above the beautiful Lake Yojoa in central Honduras is one of the country’s more impressive mountain ranges – Montaña de Santa Bárbara. Here, the volcanic and limestone landscapes surrounding the lake support a rich diversity of habitat types and a corresponding diversity of plants and animals. Nestled into the mountains are small friendly communities that make their living from growing coffee and from subsistence agriculture.
On first appearances this seems like an idyllic landscape but unfortunately, as is the case throughout much of the world, there is pressure to clear more forest to make way for agriculture in order to support a growing population.
What is different about this region however is that our three communities - El Sauce, San Luis Planes and El Dorado - have come together to form a project we have named ¨Montaña de Santa Bárbara – Montaña de Vida¨. Thousands of people depend on Montaña de Santa Bárbara for food, water and shelter and income. It is truly the source of life - la fuente de vida - for all of these people.
Because of its incredible biological diversity it is also the source of life for the innumerable plants and animals that call the mountain home.
Our communities are working together to develop new sources of income based on ethical and sustainable tourism in the hope that these additional resources will enable us to improve our livelihood while protecting this critical environment and maintaining our cultural values.
This project aims to build the capacity of our communities to manage the ecotourism opportunities and develop and implement conservation programs on our own terms rather than being overwhelmed by external commercial interests.
By supporting this program you will have the chance to be part of an inspiring conservation effort in a spectacular landscape, and to learn about the friendly people of the local villages, and to gain a better appreciation of why this is such an important area to protect.
We recognize that, in order to change the way that we manage our landscapes we need to generate alternative sources of income. Ecotourism is one of the ways that we are trying to do this. We are seeking responsible adventurers who want to add value to the places they visit – people who wish to get off the usual tourist trail in order to learn about the amazing environment in which we live and experience the lifestyle and hospitality of our communities.
With this program, our communities have come together to re-think how we live in this stunningly beautiful part of the country. How can we have a viable existence without destroying our environment? How do we move with the times, yet respect and maintain our traditions. It’s a challenging path to follow, but one that is much more exciting than one that is imposed upon us by market forces and other external influences. Through this program, we are trying to define and control our own destiny. You can be part of this adventure, by visiting, by volunteering, by donating or just by sharing our story. Get involved, have fun, and help to make a difference!
How we hope to make a difference
Speciﬁcly we we aim to:
- contibute to the protection of the ﬂora and fauna in the core protected area of PN Santa Bárbara;
- sustainably manage the buffer zone adjoining the National Park;
- develop a sustainable and ethical ecotourism enterprise that creates new employment opportunities and decreases the communities’ dependence on the coffee economy;
- build the capacity of local communities to manage emerging tourism opportunities to ensure that the beneﬁts remain within the community.