When Dr. Dodson bought the mountain land for FunaVid most of it was degraded cattle pasture, though little patches of forest remained. He allowed the forest to regenerate. Now there is attractive forest cover on much of the mountain. A rough road runs through part of this and FunaVid are extending it to become an interesting eco-tourist trail.
FunaVid forest. Charles Barber (of Rainforest Saver) and Rick Seal (FunaVid) looking at wild monkeys. Photo by Tiiu Miller 2010.
Much of the surrounding lands have been deforested and degraded, so the FunaVid Rainforest Reserve (official designation process is well under way) has become a refuge for wildlife. Even a black jaguar has been seen there, but unfortunately it has not been photographed.
Here are some photos from the FunaVid Reserve.
The aims are
a) To provide more income for the local people. They would serve as guides and provide food to the tourists. Some have already expressed an interest in becoming guides, and a local lady is well trained in hygiene and cooking. The supply of clean water that Dr. Dodson has brought down from the mountain spring will also be valuable.
b) This in turn would be an incentive to preserve the forest
c) Tourists and other visitors would also see the Inga alleys giving us publicity. We hope to start a friends group from the tourists.
d) Honduran school children and other students could visit and learn about the nature of their country.
e) It is hoped that the area can be declared a national preservation forest, and the coral reef area a marine reserve.
The plan for eco-tourism and the rainforest reserve at FunaVid
View from FunaVid land on the mountain. Photo by Tiiu Miller 2009.
(i) Create the eco-tourist trail through the rainforest on the FunaVid mountain. Several professors from CURLA, including the professors of forestry and eco-tourism, are providing valuable help and advice in many respects, such as where to build the trail and what trees to plant. Fruit trees both for tourists to sample and to attract monkeys and toucans will be planted along the trail.
For the actual building of the trail some labour can be had from students at CURLA, and maybe paying tourists from abroad. That is a popular way for students to spend a gap year. Materials are also cheap. The main materials are for building steps in steep places: old tyres that can be got for free and filled with cement.
Steps made of old tyres at FunaVid. Photo by Tiiu Miller 2010.
Trees and flowers will be planted along parts of the trail, including fruit trees that will attract monkeys and toucans. Other parts of the trail will be left wild.
Tropical flowers - heliconia - and tropical fruit tree. Photos by Tiiu Miller 2010.
(ii) Extend and renovate an existing small house as a well-equipped guest-house with 4 bedrooms with ensuite bathrooms. This is a small unused building on the FunaVid premises low down on the mountain. It has been extended and done up at relatively little cost. The cost for all the buildings is much reduced because the concrete blocks are made on site by Dr. Dodson's own employees, who can also help with the work. There are no building regulations for rural Honduras, but Dr. Dodson ensures that sufficient steel is used in the concrete to make them resist earthquakes.
(iii) Improve the shelter, called a ‘champa' on the mountain to make a rest area with toilets.
The existing champa on the mountain that is to be extended. Photo by Tiiu Miller 2010.
The champa is a bit over half way up the trail, with lovely views over the Caribbean. A second similar structure is to be added, and tables, chairs, a barbecue and toilets a bit to the side.
(iv) Build a vigilante house on the mountain. A vigilante presence is common and essential in Honduras. Otherwise the wildlife will be hunted, and other things would be likely to be damaged or stolen. This will be a small house consisting of a very simple concrete block structure 20x20ft with a compost toilet (outside), palm leaf roof, outside mud stove and outside shower. It should be very inexpensive and eco-tourist eye appealing.
(v) Start an iguana farm, to release them into the wild to increase interesting wildlife. The farm itself would be a tourist attraction.
Wild iguana found outside the FunaVid house. Photo by Richard Seal 2010.
View from FunaVid land on the mountain. Cayos Cochinos islands in the distance, waves breaking over the reef nearer in the middle. Photo by Tiiu Miller 2009.