Miskito people reclaim 970,000 hectares of land from Honduran government

By Jeremy Hance / Mongabay

One-hundred and fifty years after a treaty with England granted the Miskito people rights over their land–a treaty which was never fully respected–the government of Honduras has officially handed over nearly a million hectares (970,000 hectares) of tropical forest along the Caribbean Coast to the indigenous people. The Miskito are found along the eastern coast of both Honduras and Nicaragua and number around 200,000.

“This is an unprecedented and historic moment for our peoples,” said Norvin Goff, chairman of Miskitu Asla Takanka (MASTA), a Honduras group representing the tribes.”The entire region is at risk from illegal hunting, logging and clearing of land to graze cattle. The Miskito people can protect it, but only if we have title to those lands.”

Over the last few decades, tropical forests along the Caribbean Coast have been infiltrated by land speculators, loggers, and ranchers, creating conflict between the illegal settlers and the Miskito. The Miskito now have title to seven land areas, comprising 128 communities, and about seven percent of Honduras’ total land area.

The official rights to their land will allow the Miskito to negotiate possible REDD+ treaties in the future. REDD, which stands for Reducing Emissions From Deforestation and Degradation, is a UN program that aims to cut global carbon emissions by paying tropical countries to keep their forests standing.

“We have been doing REDD for 500 years,” notes Goff. “Now we will be able to teach others how we have protected our forests and natural resources, and benefit from our role in helping the world that wants so badly to stop destroying the forests so we can slow climate change.”

Around 40 percent of Honduras is covered in forest, but the country has one of the highest rates of deforestation in Latin America. From 1990 to 2005, Honduras lost 37.1 percent of its forestland. The country is still home to a number of important Neotropical species such as the jaguar (Panthera onca), Baird’s tapir (Tapirus bairdii), giant anteater (Myrmecophaga tridactyla), and mantled howler monkey (Alouatta palliata).

“With a substantial proportion of the total territory of Honduras now owned by Indigenous peoples, we envision the creation of a new development agenda in Honduras, one built with guidance from indigenous peoples and with respect for our customary rights,” Goff said.

From Mongabay: “Indigenous people of Honduras granted one million hectares of rainforest

3 thoughts on “Miskito people reclaim 970,000 hectares of land from Honduran government”

  1. This appears to be a future success for the elites – rather than the Miskito people who are no doubt being manipulated. One can be most certain that there is much more going on behind the reason to return the land (rightfully belonging to the Miskito).

    REDD is being vehemently opposed by Indigenous Peoples all over the world.

    “Moskitia Asla Takanka (MASTA), a Miskitu community-based organisation, has developed and launched a Biocultural Community Protocol (BCP) with technical assistance from Natural Justice and the International Union for Conservation of Nature’s (IUCN) Regional Office for Mesoamerica. The BCP seeks to assert the right to and guide the process of obtaining free, prior and informed consent (FPIC) for projects in La Moskitia.”

    Here is the link to the funding of “Natural Justice”: . The very groups who want to see REDD (the commodification of the Earth’s remaining forests) expand globally. (Ford, UN, etc.)

    Here is the link to the board of trustees:

    Here is the link of the IUCN, International Union for Conservation of Nature: http://www.iucn.org/

    These interests are that of Western/European organizations and foundations. This is further colonialism.

    These are the very groups interested in cashing in the “climate wealth” via false solutions and the illusory “green economy” that grassroots groups all over the world are opposed to.

    1. Thank you Cory for that critical analysis. It is smelling more like a trap than a victory. But I don’t doubt that there are many Miskito who have the same suspicion, and may be able to maneuver things their way.

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