The remarkable island of Ometepe in Lake Nicaragua consists of two volcanoes – one dormant and forested, the other active – joined together by a low strip of land. The island is internationally recognised as an important area for birds, including those migrating south from North America.
Since its designation as a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve – the aim of which is to promote a balanced relationship between people and the natural world – FFI has been working with islanders to increase grassroots participation in biodiversity conservation and make the use of natural resources more resilient and sustainable.
Key threats to Ometepe’s wildlife and forests include increased demand for new farm land, unsustainable tourism development and climate change. FFI is helping to tackle these threats through targeted species conservation, environmental education, improved land stewardship and environmentally friendly farming. Together with local partners, we focus on supporting women and youth groups to participate in and influence the conservation and management of the island’s natural environment. We are also involving tourism businesses in conservation, working with local entrepreneurs to generate funds for the protection and restoration of forest on the volcano slopes.
In collaboration with local community cooperative Biometepe, FFI is working with local farmers to help them adopt environmentally sensitive farming practices. Our approach also helps Ometepe’s farmers adapt to a changing climate. As a result, they are increasingly aware of the benefits of crop diversification, agroforestry and techniques to improve ground cover and soil quality in protecting crops from increased rainfall and landslides. These strategies are being shared across the island, with farmers advocating their new, sustainable and biodiversity-friendly techniques to other farmers.
By working with local stakeholders we can help people living on the island to realise their vision and shape the future of Ometepe, combining conservation of biodiversity and other natural values with compatible economic and human development.
We are grateful for financial support from the UK government’s Darwin Initiative, Stiftung Drittes Millennium, Loro Parque Foundation, Ernest Kleinwort Charitable Trust, New England Biolabs Foundation, Species Fund, Clovis Foundation and philanthropic donations.
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