Project Name: Impact of Banana Production on Coral Reefs
Managing NGO, country: Rainforest Alliance, United States
Project director: Chris Wille
Synopsis: Concluded in 2003, the project aimed to reduce the threats to the Mesoamerican Coral Reef from conventional agriculture. The Rainforest Alliance, as Secretariat of the Sustainable Agriculture Network, focused on a priority watershed in the Gulf of Honduras with the ultimate goal of guiding coffee, citrus, and banana farmers in reducing sedimentation and agrochemical use, which are threatening the Mesoamerican Coral Reef and smaller coral assemblages downstream. This region was selected in consultation with the coastal zone management program known as PROARCA COSTAS, which was supported by the US Agency for International Development, and the Mesoamerican Biological Corridor Commission, among other groups.
Annual budget & donors: $37,500 from the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation, United States.
- The real impacts of agriculture on the coral reef are not well known. Most scientists assume that the sedimentation, agrochemicals and other contaminants that streams carry from farms to the bay are detrimental to the reef, but much more research (and better coordinated research) is needed to fully describe the cause-and-effect relationships.
- Conservationists seem to agree that scarce funds and time are better spent working with farmers on reducing water pollution than on trying to measure and monitor the pollution. The Rainforest Alliance is confident that the improved farming practices required by the Sustainable Agriculture Network certification program control the sources of water pollution that could affect the reef and other aquatic ecosystems. Farmers are willing to make the changes, especially if the resulting certification can help them differentiate their products and find premium markets.
- Scientists from the various universities and NGOs studying reef ecology and threats from agriculture, industry, tourism, and municipal wastes should be more proactive in seeking forms of collaboration and more willing to share data.
San Jose, Costa Rica
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