Andrea Albergoni wrote -
Utila is a small bay island off the north coast of Honduras. The breathtaking coral reefs, mangrove forests and white, sandy beaches attract tourists from across the world. Between 2009-2010 the Bay Islands saw a 86.6% increase in cruise ship tourist arrivals, and today they are the destination of 28% of Honduras‘ tourists. This has bought several mixed blessings to the island. One of the more worrying and negative of these is the habitat destruction caused by urban expansion and new tourist resorts/developmentsThe rapid increase in tourism on Utila has contributed to unsustainable tourism practices affecting the island’s coral reefs and terrestrial forests. Kanahau is a nature reserve on Utila aiming to expand ecological monitoring on the island and inform the directors of Utila’s exploding tourism-based economy towards more environmentally sustainable development practices. Then we hope to raise the funds to purchase these lands which will be established as guarded nature reserves with public access where appropriate and permanent scientific monitoring programs established for the key species present. Our goals are: Identifying keystone species with a focus on threats to their environment: 1. engage in primary and cooperative research of the flora and fauna of the bay islands. Understand how to better manage natural resources: 1. develop long-term, sustainable environmental management plans 2. conduct environmental impact studies 3. form protected nature preserves 4. develop relationships with local and national governmental agencies to enforce existing environmental laws and assist in the development of future protective legislation. Educate the community to engage in sustainable practices: 1. develop cooperative relationships with local public and private schools. 2. provide teaching staff and environmental curricula for local schools. 3. provide hands-on after school activities designed to nuture a connection between the children and their environment. 4. raising environmental awareness within the community. 5. provide an avenue to raise tourist awareness of local ecological issues.