Document Type

Working Paper

Publication Date



"In terms of volume and potential impact, the most serious conservation problem in the world today is the destruction of lowland tropical forests and the extinction of their fauna. Since 1950, according to the Food and Agriculture Organization, half of the world's forests have vanished (Cultural Survival, Inc., 1982). The conversion rate of these forests is currently so great that a recent National Research Council (1980a) panel has predicted that their existence as a natural ecosystem will cease by the year 2000, except perhaps in two areas - Western Amazonia and Central Africa. One important step toward the preservation of the few remaining forests in Central America is the education of the American public. As stated by Nations and Komer (1982: 12), "Americans must become aware that when they bite into a fast-food hamburger or feed their dog, in effect they are consuming toucans, tapirs, indigenous peoples, and tropical forests." Of more immediate importance, the aforementioned National Research Council (1980b) panel has recommended a number of biological research priorities in the tropics. These include special inventories, baseline ecological studies, continuous ecological monitoring, and the study of indigenous human land use. Rarely are the local people consulted, let alone is their intimate and successfully adapted knowledge of local resource management heeded (Cultural Survival, Inc., 1982). In order to pursue these studies and to allay the potential ecological disasters alluded to earlier, the obvious first step is to set aside as much land as possible as forest preserves (National 3 Research Council, 1980b). The minimum size for such reserves to preserve natural conditions is thought to be about 100,000 hectares (Cultural Survival, Inc., 1982)."


Latin American and Iberian Institute

Language (ISO)



Conservation, Tropical, Forests, Extinction, Indigenous, Land Use, Honduras