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Nicaragua is one of the largest counties in Central America and has a diverse and beautiful landscape. It is known for its volcanoes, the Rio Coco, and the largest lakes on the continent Lake Nicaragua and Lake Managua, as well as its breathtaking marine life.
The country is blessed with seven different types of forest, from the subtropical dry forest to tropical rain forest and tree savannas. Each of these forested regions contains its own unique collection of plants, animal and other species.
However much of its biodiversity is in danger of disappearing. Despite the best efforts of the Nicaraguan government to protect its wildlife, poverty, population growth and climate change all put pressure on the country’s habitats.
Fauna & Flora International (FFI) has been active in Nicaragua since 1998, contributing to biodiversity conservation and strengthening local and national partners. The FFI programme in Nicaragua works together with the Ministry of Environment and Natural Resources, local NGOs and communities to support the management of protected areas. The projects use locally appropriate solutions to conserve endangered habitats such as dry forest, the island of Ometepe and threatened species such as sea turtles.
With support from Oceans 5, FFI is working with the Nicaraguan Foundation for Sustainable Development (FUNDENIC) to eliminate destructive fishing practices and conserve marine biodiversity along Nicaragua’s Pacific coast. This work involves collaborating with government, coastal communities and the growing tourism industry, as well as campaigning for stronger enforcement of the ban on blast-fishing and legal prohibition of bottom trawling along Nicaragua’s Pacific coast. We are also working to establish effective, collaborative management of the two existing wildlife refuges within the coral corridor and to establish a new community conservation area at Gigante. FFI and partners are also working with government and communities to strengthen compliance with fisheries regulations and to build much needed capacity to implement biodiversity and fisheries monitoring for management.
The desire to improve the sustainability of local fisheries and ensure community benefits from marine protected areas is shared at many coastal sites across Latin America. With funding from the Darwin Initiative, FFI is working with local organisations in Nicaragua, Honduras, Costa Rica and Ecuador to give artisanal fishers a voice and role in managing their marine natural resources.
FFI’s approach emphasises the importance of participatory governance, ecosystem-based management, and support for local culture, livelihoods and access rights. We are taking a distinct approach at each site, based on the national context and the specific priorities of the local fishing communities. A range of participatory and ecosystem-based management tools for marine conservation are being tested and implemented, including spatial zoning and securing marine resource management rights for local communities.
Our objective is to expand and strengthen the array of Nicaraguan government and civil society conservation organisations. FFl will continue its training programmes to build technical capacity and will complement these with improvements in organisational governance.
Current priorities are the strengthening of Fundación Entre Volcanes and other key institutions on Ometepe Island and developing a financially sustainable, participatory governance system at Chacocente Wildlife Refuge.
Situated in Lake Nicaragua, life on Ometepe is inextricably linked to the presence and influence of the island’s two volcanoes. The island contains all the major Nicaraguan habitats and is an important site for Pan-American migratory birds. FFI’s initial work to strengthen protected area management led to the island’s Maderas Volcano being upgraded to become a National Park encompassing an additional 4,000 hectares of forest. FFI also supported the Government of Nicaragua’s initiative to establish the whole island as a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve – a major international tribute to Ometepe’s cultural and biological wealth.
The Biosphere Reserve is an ideal site for FFI and partners to trial innovative approaches to – biodiversity conservation and sustainable local development – through improved environmental governance, landscape level planning and the promotion of sustainable forest-friendly livelihoods. We support biodiversity-friendly farming and tourism initiatives on the island, and work to build the resilience of Ometepe’s people and ecosystems in the face of a changing – and less predictable – climate.
The majority of Nicaragua’s population lives on its Pacific coast, thereby putting growing pressure on nearby natural resources. FFI aims to ensure the long-term conservation of Chacocente Wildlife Refuge, one of the largest tracts of Nicaragua’s unique mosaic of dry forest and Pacific coastal habitats. We are helping the Ministry of Environment and Natural Resources to implement the Refuge management plan and establish a system for increased community participation in management, whilst promoting sustainable alternative livelihoods, such as catering and other services to visitors.
Poachers are a serious threat to leatherback, hawksbill and olive ridley turtles on Nicaragua’s Pacific coast. They illegally harvest the turtle eggs along beaches and kill hawksbills to use their shell for jewellery. FFI has trained over 80 community members in turtle protection and hatchery management, achieving an impressive rise in hatching success on key nesting beaches, and protecting over 90% of leatherbacks nesting in Nicaragua and an estimated 50% of the known nesting hawksbill population in the Eastern Pacific. In addition, FFI has helped communities to find other ways of making a living (such as making handbags from recycled plastic bags) and has raised national awareness to reduce demand for turtle eggs. We are now maintaining all this work and extending protection to near-shore waters.
Great gains for conservation have been made since Fauna & Flora International (FFI) first began working on Ometepe Island, Nicaragua. An island of dazzling diversity Formed by two volcanoes rising from Lake Nicaragua, linked by a low strip of wetland, Ometepe is one of the largest freshwater islands in the world. Within its 276km2 there is a dramatic range of altitude, topography and climate, creating a mosaic of habitats representing the majority of the country’s ecosystems. Ometepe’s humid and cloud…Read more