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, which is led by a forestry engineer with expertise in mangroves.
About 25,000 mangroves will be planted over a six-month period, on three sites on the island: The Canal, Black Rock, and La Ensenada. BICA has experience with replanting, including the most arduous part of the work, which is preparing the sites by restoring freshwater streams and clearing invasive species.
Guanaja Island is surrounded by beautiful coral reefs, 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 sandy beach is the only recreational area 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.
A Seacology grant will also be used 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. It will also generate income for boardwalk and nursery maintenance by offering mangrove tokens—small disks that can be attached to key chains or backpacks—for a donation.