s Project 1: Las Orquideas

Project 1: Las Orquideas

Project ID Annual Project Budget
for 2017
Executing Group and Partners



ASHO – capítulo Aguilas Arpías, Catacamas

Univ. Nac. de Agricultura, Catacamas – Recursos  Naturales dept.

Honduran Conservation Coalition

Josué Matute, Mark Bonta, and Isidro Zuniga, project coordinators


Las Orquideas Ecological Reserve (endangered Honduran Emerald,
Three-wattled Bellbird)

Project Location Principal Protected Area Principal Target Species
El Ocotal & Planes
de Babilonia, Gualaco, in the
buffer zone of
Sierra de Agalta National Park
  Sierra de Agalta N.P.
  • Honduran Emerald
  • Green-backed Sparrow (endemic subspecies
  • Arremonops chloronotus twomeyi)
  • Three-wattled Bellbird
  • Golden-cheeked Warbler
Project History
Las Orquídeas is a 20-year-old privately-owned forest reserve and organic farm owned byIsidro Zuniga, a local farmer and parabiologist who has collaborated with numerous biologists in studies and publications on 3-wattled Bellbird, Red-throated Caracara,
Baird’s Tapir, etc. Zuniga and family, with extremely limited funds, have completely
protected flora and fauna in tropical dry forest and pine/oak forest, allowed forest to
regrow, put in nature trails and signs, developed a bathing spot along the Babilonia
River, and erected basic infrastructure for camping and field research for the region. Orquideas also includes trail access to the Planes de Babilonia and a privately-owned
base camp in the upper buffer zone of the Sierra de Agalta NP.
Project Objectives
  • Improve infrastructure at Las Orquídeas and Planes de Babilonia to allow it to
    become the primary birding location along the Tegucigalpa-Trujillo road corridor;
  • Promote Las Orquídeas as a prime birding location and as a gateway to the Sierra
    de Agalta National Park.
Project Justification

This reserve is considered to be one of the best in its class in Honduras, and is well-situated along the paved corridor between Tegucigalpa and Trujillo which will open
up the region to bird tourism quite rapidly within the next five years. At present, there
are no locations appropriate for bird-oriented tourism, so Las Orquídeas will serve as
a model reserve, all the more important because it showcases the benefits of rapid
recovery of degraded forest via the complete protection provided by the Zuniga family
over the last 20 years, as well as compatibility with organic farming using a range of agroecological techniques. At least 150 bird spp. exist in the reserve, with more than
500 spp. in nearby valley and mountain habitats of the Sierra de Agalta.

Project Description

Collaborating groups will create a master plan for the project, with the goal of providing
the minimal infrastructure needed to host bird tours and to promote the location.
Funding will be destined for: re-redesign of 3 km of birding trails at the El Ocotal
location, with look-outs, benches, and bilingual signs; completion of latrines, at least
two 2 cabins, and other basic infrastructure; development of promotional materials
and articles for sale to tourists; improvement of trail and primitive high forest camp infrastructure adequate for adventure tours; purchase of additional camping material
to supplement the Honduran Conservation Coalition’s existing equipment inventory
that is housed here. (At present, a water system from the Babilonia River, as well as
electricity via generator, is available.) Also, pricing structures that will allow Orquideas
to generate revenue from ecotourism will be designed. If funds are available, support
the purchase of land buffering the west side of the reserve, to mitigate the effects of
burning practiced by neighbors; supplying solar energy to cabins. Long-term vision:
purchase of land corridor up to the nucleus of the Sierra de Agalta NP, and restore it;
develop Las Orquideas into a field station and environmental education facility for the
entire region. As much as possible, sustainably-harvested local materials will be used
for constructions of cabins and other infrastructure.



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