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Garifuna NGO Recognized for Protecting the Environment

By: Wendy Griffin
After the Conference in Rio de Janeiro in 1992 over the ecological crisis in the world, many countries signed the Convention on Biological Diversity. Since then, the signers meet every two years to analyze the victories and challenges of the struggle to protect the environment.

The Equator Initiative which works to protect the environment, wants to recognize the best projects in the world which both protect biodiversity while reducing poverty in tropical areas. This year in 2004 the Garifuna Emergency Committee of Trujillo was chosen as one of the 26 best projects worldwide which try to do this.

Representatives of this Garifuna organization will travel to Malaysia this month to present their work to signers of the Convention of Biological Diversity. In this meeting the six best projects will be announced and each will receive a cash prize to continue their projects. These awards for Sustainable Development in Tropical Eco-Systems are given by the Equator Initiative members including UN Development Programmers, the government of Canada, Conservation International, Nature Conservancy, the UN Foundation, the government of Germany and Brazil Connects.

The projects of biodiversity of the Garifuna Emergency Committee are many. The Garifuna have been very affected by Lethal Yellowing, a disease that kills the coconut trees. The organization was able to obtain coconuts resistant to Lethal Yellowing which they planted on the beach and in their agricultural plots.

The Garifunas have been hunters as well as fisherman. They have left forest reserves around their communities. For this reason many of the protected areas (parks) of the North coast like Punta Sal, Capiro and Calentura, the Guaymoreto Lagoon and Rio Platano Biosphere all include Garifuna communities.

The Garifunas took the raw materials for making their crafts like canoes, mortars, graters, drums, etc. from these forested areas. But the trees for these crafts have become scarce. So the Garifunas started a reforestation project with hardwood trees, including mahoghany, cedar, and bay trees.

Their crafts using basketry have been very affected by the destruction of the vine "balaire" which is the material used to make basket sifter and basket strainer to make cassava. Together with an agronomist from the Foundation for Capiro and Calentura and the Guaymoreto Lagoon (FUCAGUA), they began the first project to reforest this wild plant.
Other Articles By Wendy Griffin
11/01/05 Hurricane Beta Causes Widespread damage on North Coast of Honduras
09/06/05 Hondurans Watch Hurricane Katrina From a Distance
04/17/05 Garifunas Celebrate with Joy Their Arrival in Honduras
03/04/05 Bilingual Intercultural Education in Classrooms--An Elusive Goal
01/30/04 Garifuna Land Struggles Increasingly Violent

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