COMMUNITY DEVELOPMENT

OVERVIEW

Linking together people’s day-to-day needs with conservation goals is critical. Conservation on the Bay Islands must be understood as an act of community self-defense because it is the livelihoods of the peoples of these islands that, above all other interests, depend on a flourishing coastal-marine habitat. Your support for RMP and the marine environment has never been more vital. Local actions have a global impact and we know the only way to achieve effective management is through joint conservation partnerships.

Our most successful community development project supports the local community of Corozal, by acquiring and managing funding from our grant donors KFW via MARfund. Community members were given the opportunity to create an alternative livelihood which did not depend on illegal fishing practices or increased pressure on the reef and our natural resources. With this injection of funding together, we were able to invest in everything required for the production of honey, from equipment, building structures and training. The initial round of products included local plain honey, honey with honeycomb and an innovative medicinal honey which includes eucalyptus and peppermint which is fantastic for treating cold and flu symptoms. The second round of products includes shampoo, conditioner and other naturally made, locally produced products to reduce the amount of damage on the reef.

We know that the future of conservation is through education and community engagement we created this program which offers dive courses to youth members. With further funding from our grant donors we were able to offer local members of the community the training from Open Water Diving to professional level Divemaster. By teaching them to have an appreciation for their natural resources and making them local tour guides we can further educate visitors by passing on our conservation messages.

This program concentrates on a younger generation, many of whom may never have even seen the reef or explored their local natural resources. We teach them how to interact and protect these environments from a young age. Beginning with presentations, beach and mangrove clean ups, glass bottom boat trips and eventually snorkelling and diving.

There is a global recycling crisis, being on an island doesn’t make it any easier. People tend to think that by throwing something away, it goes away. When really there is no “away”. Recycling here on Roatan is a manual process done by people who search through the trash looking for aluminium cans and PET 1 plastic bottles which they can sell for a very small amount of money. The Roatan Marine Park started the very first recycle program which entails the construction of recycle bins from confiscated fishing net and wood.

This program aims to educate private businesses such as restaurants on responsible and sustainable fishing purchasing of fish. It also promotes these restaurants to the general public and educates locals and visitors alike. There is a certain rules to follow to help us keep our fish consumption sustainable. Examples of this are not to purchase lobster under the size of 5.5 inches as this ensures they are at an age where they would have had time to reproduce. Do not support the restaurants who sell lobster under this size.

Inclusion of local perspectives into mangrove rehabilitation projects is essential if the management and restoration efforts are to be successful. Coastal development will not proceed without attention to mangrove ecosystem restoration (Ellison, 2000) and the participation of local communities will mainly determine the future of mangrove ecosystems benefitting livelihoods of coastal human populations worldwide (Ronnback, et al., 2007).