In 2016, EcoLogic was invited by Dominique Calaganan, a member of our advisory committee, with whom we are connected to thanks to our relationship with the PARTNER network, to write an article on how our work at EcoLogic contributes to a global conversation about local governance in international development and conservation. We chose Honduras mainly because we wanted to help people see what good governance by-and-for local communities looks like, which is alive and well in the communities we support. But we also had the aim of helping our peers and other organizations learn from and replicate what we’ve done. We wanted to connect with academic audiences to give a humble example of what an international non-profit of our size can do to help facilitate and strengthen real grassroots efforts in practice. Perhaps most importantly, this article intended to continue to raise the profile of our inspiring partners in Honduras—because they deserve it.
The original version of this article first appeared at World Development Perspectives, Volume 3, September 2016, Pages 12–14
This case examines a promising multi-stakeholder forest governance effort in Northern Honduras, where local communities have exhibited resilience and resolve despite persistent lack of government funding or attention. They have helped conserve and restore over 7500 hectares of tropical forest. This success is due to the combination of four key factors: (1) the focus on bridging disparate stakeholder groups to expand options rather than viewing natural resource management as a zero-sum game; (2) the intentional project team design, where there has been an extraordinary amount of attention and design for equity between paid project staff and community level project participants; (3) the inherent cultural durability of locally created incentive mechanisms; and (4) the pride generated from recognition of extremely remote households by generally more powerful and better resourced institutions such as the municipal government seat, particularly in a society known to be quite hierarchical and biased in favor of urban elites while condescending toward rural inhabitants.