In the town of Morazán Honduras, with Pico Pijol mountain in the background, the mayors of the municipalities of Yoro, Victoria, El Negrito, and Morazán joined with the Minister of the Forests, Wildlife and Protected Areas, Cooperative COMISUYL and the Mesoamerican Development Institute (MDI) to sign a co-management agreement for Pico Pijol National Park. On August 29th, 2013, MDI became the first international organization to enter a co-management agreement with Honduras.
MDI and the organization of small coffee producers, Cooperative COMISUYL, are introducing new ways of growing and processing coffee that eliminate the use of firewood in drying and provide an alternative to coffee monoculture in cloud forests in the buffer zone of the national park. With market support from an alliance of coffee roaster/distributors including Merchants of Green Coffee in Toronto, Casa Progreso in Gothenburg Sweden, and Red Barn Coffee Roasters in Massachusetts, the alliance is creating a new and alternative model for the coffee sector worldwide. The Honduran Forest Service has identified expanding coffee production and the use of wood in drying the annual harvest as the primary threat to Pico Pijol National Park (and others), as the region has increased coffee production significantly over the past five years. The designation as co-manager will open new opportunities for students and faculty of UMass Lowell and Amherst, who have played a major role in field research and advancing the understanding of the scientific and conservation community.
In remarks at the signing ceremony, Richard Trubey, program developer for the Mesoamerican Development Institute noted:
“These advances are not easy — work and cooperation, practice and experience must be gained. If it were easy, it would be occurring many places. But the fact is that it is happening here, and only here. And this is starting to gain the attention of world markets. As we conduct this ceremony now, in Toronto Canada a container of coffee from Cooperative COMISUYL is being unloaded – it will be marketed with the story of all that is going on here to develop ways to prosper in harmony with forests and verified by the scientific community.”
“Working together and connecting to markets looking for genuine advances in economic and environmental sustainability will be the key to our collective success.”