Honduras forest activists slow deforestation

In central Honduras, where deforestation is widespread, poor farmers and rural residents under the leadership of Roman Catholic priest Andres Tamayo have had a string of successes in their struggle to save the pine forests that sustain them (or used to). The activists say Honduras’ forests have been poorly managed for decades, resulting in topsoil erosion, water shortages, and declining wildlife. Last year, the farmers-turned-activists managed a dozen times to shut down all logging operations in Olancho, a popular timber province. Tamayo has called for a logging moratorium in the rest of the country as well until the forests can be managed more sustainably and all lumber can be milled in the community where it was cut. But environmental activism is a dangerous pursuit in Honduras. Powerful logging interests, as well as the government, strongly oppose the movement, and illegal logging gangs have intimidated villagers and made attempts on Tamayo’s life.