Nicaragua – Honduras Sentinel Landscape

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The Nicaragua Honduras Sentinel Landscape is characterized by a variety of land uses. Tree cover is therefore diverse, competition for land is high, and speculation and renting land are common, but these arrangements drive deforestation, hinder long term investments and exacerbate land degradation.

This Sentinel Landscape hopes to address some of the following questions:

  • What conditions underlie the recuperation of tree cover?
  • What is the current land uses on the landscape and the different models to re-introduce trees?
  • Do current legal frameworks favor sustainable management or practices for the recuperation of trees?
  • What are the implications of the different models of tree re-introduction (in terms of quantity, functional and taxonomic, for mitigation of climate change, hydrological network and connectivity within the landscape)?
  • What are the changes to human welfare related to the different models of tree re-introduction?
  • Where are areas of conflicts within the landscape?
  • What are the trade-offs between social-ecological vulnerability and efficiency of the system under different models of tree re-introduction?
  • What opportunities and limitations are therefor the different models of tree re-introduction?
  • How to support initiatives for the re-introduction of trees in farms and landscapes to secure ecosystem restoration?

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[tabby title=”Site selection”]

Site selection

13 candidate sites

4 sites chosen in discussion with local partners:

  • Cover the forest transition curve
  • Representative of main land use and forest types in the landscape
  • Presence of partners in the site
  • Security and accessibility

Forest cover in NH-SL

Tuma-La Dalia-Ni

  • Fragmented landscape with low forest cover
  • Land use: basic grains production, coffee agroforestry and cattle ranching.
  • Farm sizes ~0.5 ha – 300 ha, most commonly smallholders with individual private land tenure
  • Good accessibility
  • Part of the CATIE key territory
  • Very high population density >250 persons/km2 (CIESIN estimates for 2010)

Columbus – Ni

  • Part of the Tasba-Pry indigenous territory (indigenous reserve – Miskitu)
  • High percentage of non indigenous settlers 50% in the area = source of conflicts
  • Indigenous communities, recognized by the government, communal land. Settlers individual private land tenure
  • Forest in recovery phase from a large event disturbance: Felix Hurricane in 2007
  • Migratory agriculture and livestock encroachment in tropical forest – particularly after Felix.
  • Very low population densities 1-5 persons/km2 (CIESIN estimates for 2010)

Rio Blanco-Hn

  • Main land use: pasture – cattle ranching and basic grains production
  • Small pockets of forest remnants (mostly along rivers)
  • A massive conversion from forest to cattle ranching started in 80’s.
  • Located between three protected areas (e.g. Patuca, Sierra de Agalta and Tawahka National Park).
  • Low population density, 5-25 persons/km2 (CIESIN estimates for 2010)

Rio Platano-Hn

  • Still largely covered by primary forests (in the mountainous areas within the reserves)
  • Reserves land belong to the government
  • Cattle ranching in fertile valleys, where population settle, managed as private land tenure (even within national territories).
  • People share agricultural activities and forest management (concessions) as sources of livelihood.
  • Home to several indigenous groups, within the reserve. Rights over land not recognized by government.
  • Low population density, 5-25 persons/km2 (CIESIN estimates for 2010)
  • Securities issues drug traffic , land grabbing

[tabby title=”Village selection”]

Village selection

Initial listing of villages with census data, regional census, (scarce, not up to date)
National maps, regional maps
Visit to municipalities, knowledge of partners
Check location of villages within or near the block

Criteria for selection:

  • Distance to the road – forest (in Nicaragua used exchangeable)
  • Partners recommendation based on accessibility and security
  • Previous knowledge and availability of datas
  • No existence of conflicts
  • Quickly and easily to get permits (with villages leaders)

Socio – economic survey


  • 8 communities
  • 297 HH, 158 forms (IFRI and ISOP)


  • 8 communities
  • 298 HH, 137 forms (IFRI and ISOP
  • 3-5 days per village

Rio Plátano (Sico):

  • 9 communities
  • 146 HH, 82 forms (IFRI and ISOP)

Rio Blanco (Catacamas)

  • 8 communities
  • 104 HH, 88 forms (IFRI and ISOP)
  • 3-5 days per village

Collection of information – village level

Random selection of HH, based on lists of households from leaders, and snowball.
IFRI survey:

  • Mostly workshops ideally at least 30 participants
  • Focal groups smaller groups (particularly for user and products)
  • Key informants leaders, teacher
  • Individual interviews (users and products)
  • People chosen in coordination with the leaders of the villages
  • As much as possible 50% men and 50% women

Type of villages

La Dalia
Village with a core area (church, school, mayor building) and houses around.
Spread households

Village is set along the road

Rio Plátano
Spread households
Village is set along the road

Rio Blanco
Village is set along the road

Institutional mapping

For the implementation of the institutional mapping, CIRAD, Nitlapán and CATIE-Honduras have developed a pluri-disciplinary approach within a team formed with agro-economists, foresters, and sociologists. A Protocol for Institutional mapping at a landscape scale led by Sandrine Fréguin-Gresh (CIRAD) working with UCA-Nitlapán and CATIE-Honduras has been developed and implemented

Gender components

Try to get more participation of women
Consider not only farming activities but also household activities to plan interviews
Perhaps other approaches needed to go beyond conditions (this is a good starting point), but we need to get to power relations.

[tabby title=”Activities”]

2014 Activities in SL

Base line field studies and production of clean data bases COMPLETED!!!!.
We will co-organize a national Symposium-Workshop on Linking science to rural development and education, as part of the Science Week, Government of Nicaragua. Current research on NHSL to be presented for first time. The symposium-workshop is jointly designed, sponsored and implemented by FTA-CATIE, CIAT, CIRAD, CONICYT, FUNICA, CNU, ICRAF, MAPNoruega. Others will surely joint the group of sponsors in the coming weeks.
Information on trees on farms collected in household baseline survey, analyzed and presented in: 1) a comprehensive technical report, and b) a short manuscript to submit to a peer-reviewed journal once the quality of the manuscript is improved.
New Mind-Power on board. Dr Geovana Carreño, 2 years post-doc, will work on the inventory of trees and forest patches in farms in the four study blocks. One exchange student has been gathering technical information on cameras, remote sensors and un-manned flying vehicles to provide cartographic information in real time to lead the sampling of the trees on the farms
One exchange student has been working on putting CATIE’s agroforestry databases in Open Access using the DATAVERSE platform. Some data bases are already available in that platform. The goal is to incorporate to dataverse all the survey and experimental data on agroforestry with cocoa and coffee collected by Eduardo Somarriba. Once this is completed, we will do similar exercises with researchers with organized data, and eventually will take a look at the databases produced by the MSc research. In the mean time, it has been recommended to CATIE’s graduate school that all MSc studendts shall submit their data bases in DATAVERSE as part of the graduation process.

Networking. Various CGIAR centers and CRPs are operating in various sections of the NHSL. An alliance between CIAT-CATIE-CIRAD has started a process to put everybody in contact and well informed. Jenny is involved in the preparation of various project proposals in alliance with colleagues from Bioversity, CIRAD, CATIE and others. More research will be conducted in the NHSL. More integration between ICRAF and MAPNoruega is taking place.
We will design 4 master level research projects, field work in first half of 2015. All studies will focus on issues along the forest transition curve, tree botanical and functional diversity, livelihoods, etc.
Participation in the international landscape governance workshop
NH-SL was presented as a case study in the international workshop, as a part of SL iniciative
coordinated by CIFOR and ICRAF, three members of SL the participated in the worshop

Biophysical Baseline coordination within the Western Amazonia Sentinel Landscape

As a part of the activities to support to others landscape teams, the Sentinel Landscape Nicaragua-Honduras field coordinator Norvin Sepúlveda traveled to Peru, in order to share not only the methodology, but also the experiences and lesson learned about potential problems and alternatives to how to solve them.

Agreement to start the biophysical baseline with training about the Land Degradation and Surveillance Framework. LDSF Training will be given by Norvin Sepúlveda (CATIE) and Noel Ulloa (CATIE), around 20 people from the organizations of three countries involved in the site.


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Biophysical Baseline Surveys in the Nicaragua-Handuras Sentinel Landscape

June – July 2013

Document (2.5 MB)

Progress Update on the LDSF Field Surveys: Nicaragua Sentinel Landscape

4 October 2013

English (1.0 MB)

Spanish (1.0 MB)

Paisaje Centinela Nicaragua Honduras

Agosto—Septiembre 2013

Document (0.2 MB)


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