The Bay Islands of Honduras—Roatán, Guanaja, and Útila—lie along the Mesoamerican Barrier Reef, the largest barrier reef in the western hemisphere. The reef stretches from the islands almost 700 miles north, to the tip of the Yucatan Peninsula. Along the shore, mangroves shelter juvenile fish and protect the coastline from storm damage.
This project will restore five acres of mangroves on Guanaja Island, the smallest of the Bay Islands. Tree seedlings will be grown in the nursery run by the Bay Island Conservation Association Guanaja (BICA Guanaja) and Green Island Challenge. A forestry engineer with expertise in mangroves will lead the effort.
About 25,000 mangroves will be planted over a six-month period, on three sites: The Canal, Black Rock, and La Ensenada. BICA has experience with replanting, including the arduous work of preparing the sites by restoring freshwater streams and clearing invasive species.
Beautiful coral reefs surround Guanaja Island, but only about 1,000 visitors come each year. Our project partners will use a Seacology grant to repair a dilapidated mangrove walkway in La Ensenada. The walkway is roughly 1,500 feet and leads to 500+ more feet of beachfront. This is the only sandy beach on this side of the island that can be reached by either ground or boat, so it could be a big draw. Interpretive materials along the boardwalk will explain the value of the mangrove ecosystem.
Our partners will also use a Seacology grant to turn a vacant kiosk at the Guanaja airport into a welcome center. The center will raise tourists’ environmental awareness and tell them what activities are allowed on the island. To raise money for boardwalk and nursery maintenance, it will offer mangrove tokens for a donation. These popular items are small disks that visitors can attach to keychains or backpacks.