First Advisor

Martha A. Works

Term of Graduation

Spring 2005

Date of Publication


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science (M.S.) in Geography






Protected areas -- Honduras, Natural resources management areas -- Honduras, Forest management -- Honduras, Ecotourism -- Honduras, Reserva de la Biosfera del Río Plátano (Honduras)



Physical Description

1 online resource (xi, 146 pages)


The Río Plátano Biosphere Reserve, a tropical rainforest reserve in the northeastern corner of Honduras, is home to several subsistence-based indigenous groups, including the Miskito, Pech and Garifuna, as well as the non-indigenous Ladinos. Communities within the reserve depend on forest resources, swidden agriculture, marine resources and/or small-scale ranching as the foundations for local economies. Regulations placed on these subsistence practices, after establishment of the biosphere reserve in 1980, have created unique and new pressures and resulted in a blend of traditional and innovative resource use. A notable result is the promotion of ecotourism as a solution for meeting the economic needs of local populations while conserving local resources. This thesis documents current resource use in the Miskito and Ladino communities of Banaka, Brans, and Fuente de Jacob, in the Río Plátano Biosphere Reserve and the potential of ecotourism to maintain both local economies and consumption of tropical rainforest resources in these communities. Analysis suggests that a community-based approach to ecotourism can result in economic benefits and maintain local culture. This thesis documents current resource use (agricultural crops and trees, gathered and cultivated plants, tree-use, and hunting), resident perspectives on ecotourism development and industry, and provides the foundation for long-term monitoring and analysis on the effects of ecotourism on forest resource and land-use in the greater Banaka region.


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