The Annotated Ramsar List: Honduras

23/10/2013

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The Annotated Ramsar List of Wetlands of International Importance

HONDURAS

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The Convention on Wetlands came into force for Honduras on 23 October 1993. Honduras presently has 9 sites designated as Wetlands of International Importance, with a surface area of 270,224 hectares.

site; date of designation; region, province, state; surface area; coordinates
site; date de désignation; région, province, état; superficie; coordonnées
sitios; fecha de designación; región, provincia, estado; área; coordenadas

Barras de Cuero y Salado. 23/06/93; Atlántida; 13,225 ha; 15º45’N 087º02’W. National wildlife refuge. An extensive complex of linked coastal, estuarine and riverine wetlands. Much of the area is composed of flooded forest and mangroves with coconut plantations lining the beaches. A group of families lives within the Refuge practicing traditional fishing and agriculture (palm plantations). The area provides an important source of drinking water, excellent summer grazing for cattle, and supports a rich fish fauna and a wide variety of resident and migratory waterbirds. Endangered fauna include the reptiles Crocodylus acutus and Caiman sclerops fuscus, and a small population of manatees (Trichechus manatus). Ramsar site no. 619. Most recent RIS information: 1993.

Laguna de Bacalar. 03/02/03. Gracias a Dios. 7,394 ha. 15°08'N, 85°10'W. A marine-coastal wetland on the Caribbean coast characterized by broad-leaf forest, swamps, and mangrove forest. The areas adjacent to the lagoons are dominated by mangroves, characterized by red mangrove (Rhizophora mangle), white mangrove (Languncularia racemosa), and buttonwood (Conocarpus erectus). The site's rich fauna includes endangered species like the Caribbean manatee (Trichechus manatus), uncommon birds such as the jabirú (Jabiru mycteria) and fish characteristic to this type of ecosystem, including schoolmaster snapper (Lutjanus apodus) and horse-eye jack (Caranx latus). The site is invaluable in providing flood control, sedimentation capture, and stabilization of the reflux between the sea and the lagoon, which is fed by the Sico Tinto o Negro river. Economic activity by small populations in the area, including agriculture, deforestation and illegal fishing remain as threats. However, government and non-governmental organizations remain active in promoting sustainable fishing practices and appropriate micro-basin management. Ramsar site no. 1254.Most recent RIS information: 2001.

Parque Nacional Jeanette Kawas. 28/03/95; Atlántida; 78,150 ha; 15º51’N 087º40’W. National park. The ecosystems found are a portion of those originally existing. Fourteen ecosystem types have been identified, comprising five non-marine wetlands, five terrestrial, and four marine types. The park is species rich, supporting numerous rare, recently described and threatened species. The mangrove forests on the lagoon are amongst the best preserved on the Atlantic coast. Particularly important for the maintenance of biodiversity and the development of ecotourism, the coral reefs are the largest on the continental coast of Honduras. The marine ecosystem has a high diversity of fauna, including several endangered species. The former "Punta Sal National Park" and Ramsar site was renamed for Jeanette Kawas, president of PROLANSATE, a local NGO in charge of the management of the park, who was murdered on 6 February 1995 for her opposition to drainage of the site for development purposes. Ramsar site no. 722. Most recent RIS information: 1995.

Refugio de Vida Silvestre Punta Izopo. 20/03/96; Atlántida; 11,200 ha; 15º44’N 087º21’W. Wildlife Reserve. Remnants of the last existing areas of pristine, tropical, broad-leaved forest. The site includes coastline, river valleys, flooded savannas, marshes, mangroves, rocky beaches, and lakes forming a large wetland of outstanding importance due to its biodiversity and numerous threatened or endemic populations supported. The site provides important breeding and feeding areas for birds and fish. Two ethnic communities inhabit the site and pre-Colombian remains have been excavated. Human activities include agriculture and ranching. Ramsar site no. 812. Most recent RIS information: 1996.

Sistema de Humedales Cuyamel-Omoa. 02/02/2013; Cortés; 30,029 ha; 15°39'18"N 088°11'49"W. National Park. An extremely varied and important wetland system based on its function as habitat of endangered species such as the Antillean Manatee Trichechus manatus, the Jabiru bird Jabiru mycteri, the Guasa fish Epinephelus itajara,the crocodile Crocodylus acutus, and the sea turtle species Dermochelys coriacea and Eretmochelys imbricate. The extent of the Park and Ramsar Site, located near Guatemala's Punta de Manabique Ramsar Site, includes part of the Gulf of Honduras, the lowland Cuyamel valley, and part of the Sierra de Omoa mountains (max. 1,628m asl). The site is also vital for aquatic species particularly during their early life stages, as they maintain the Mesoamerican Barrier Reef System fisheries and are the basis of the local economy. Furthermore, the system supports resident and migratory waterbird populations as well as sea turtle populations that depend on the site's beaches, particularly during the spawning season. In addition to these ecosystem services, the site is essential for the regulation of water flux and the prevention of seawater intrusion and contamination of aquifers in the coastal areas where local communities are located. Among the adverse effects faced by the site are the expansion of cattle ranching, the growing number of African Palm crops, and the growing construction sector, among others. Ramsar Site no. 2133. Most recent RIS information: 2013.

Sistema de Humedales de la Isla de Utila. 02/02/2013; Islas de la Bahía; 16,226 ha; 16o06'00"N 85o56'14"W. Bahía Islands Marine Park, which includes two Marine Special Protection Zones and one Wildlife Refuge. The importance of the site, which includes the Isla de Utila and surrounding waters, is based on its diverse and interdependent ecosystems, which are part of the Mesoamerican Barrier Reef System and include coral reefs, marine grasses, mangroves, swamps, coastal lakes, rocky shores, hypersaline shallow waters, and floodplains, as well as above and below ground karstic systems. These ecosystems support numerous fauna and flora species including some endangered species such as the sea turtles Caretta caretta, Chelonia mydas (green sea turtle), and Eretmochelys imbricata. Endangered species of birds, fish and shellfish are also found, with what is considered to be the largest habitat and species diversity of the northwest Caribbean region of the Barrier Reef System. The Park also plays a vital role in supporting various species particularly during their first life stages. Utila Island is a tourism hotspot and is also a valuable and mostly unexplored archaeological site, having been home to Chibcha and Mesoamerican tribes; increasing tourist and urban development are considered to present potential threats. Ramsar Site No. 2134. Most recent RIS information: 2013.

Sistema de Humedales de la Zona Sur de Honduras. 10/07/99; Tegucigalpa; 69,711 ha; 13º20’N 087º25’W. A complex of seven coastal areas totaling 69,711 hectares along the Honduran portion of the Golfo de Fonseca, along the Corredor Biológico Mesoamericano Pacífico de Honduras. Various species of mangrove form the predominant vegetation in this area of typical marine-coastal ecosystem influenced by the fluctuation of the tides. Several lagoons in the rainy season provide refuge for both migratory and non-migratory birds, as well as spawning grounds for various species of tortoise, molluscs, crustaceans, and fish. The area is important to the nearby people for its mangrove wood for construction, as well as for traditional fishing and grazing activities. Subject of Ramsar staff visit in September 2000.  Ramsar site no. 1000. Most recent RIS information: 1999.

Sistema de Humedales Laguna de Zambuco (SH-LZ). 22/04/2013; Atlántida; 649 ha; 15°47'54”N 087°13'23”W. The site, characteristic of the estuarine systems found in northern Honduras, supports numerous threatened or endangered species such as the Antillean Manatee (Trichechus manatus) and the leatherback and Hawksbill sea turtles (Dermochelys coriacea and Eretmochelys imbricata respectively), for which it provides nesting areas. It is rich in biodiversity and, to date, 59 species of plants, 34 of fish, 87 of birds (24 of which are migratory species), and 11 species of reptiles among others have been identified. In addition, the site supports numerous fish and crustacean species during their larval and juvenile stages, contributing to the maintenance of the Mesoamerican Barrier Reef fisheries, and as it is located between two other Ramsar Sites (Parque Nacional Punta Izopo and Refugio de Vida Silvestre Cuero y Salado) it contributes to the creation of a Biological Corridor in northern Honduras. The area is also important for the Garifuna people, one of the nine ethnic groups present in Honduras, who depend on the site for their livelihoods. The main threats to the ecological character are related to deforestation of mangroves, expansion of African Palm crops, and population growth. Ramsar Site no. 2189. Most recent RIS information: 2013.

Subcuenca del Lago de Yojoa. 05/06/05; Comayagua, Cortés and Santa Bárbara; 43,640 ha; 14º51'N 88º00'W. A lake and surrounding area containing a total of 13 wetland types and unique ecosystems for Honduras, such as evergreen low mountain forest and the highest karst mountain in Central America. Among the most notable species are the endemic salamanders Dendrotriton sanctibarbarus and Nototriton barbouri, as well as the giant anteater Myrmecophaga tridactyla, all of them threatened species. Despite spreading over only 0.37% of the national territory, the site hosts 169 fern species (24.7% national total); 71 aquatic and emergent plants (86.5% national total); and 29 freshwater fish species (32.9% national total). It is also the only site in Honduras where the least bittern (Ixobrychus exilus), the osprey (Pandion haliaetus), the snail kite (Rostrhamus sociabilis), and all kingfishers have been recorded. The introduction of exotic species, deforestation and the advance of the land-and-cattle frontier are some of the most pressing problems in this site. Ramsar site No. 1467. Most recent RIS information: 2005.

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