Conservation & Restoration Photos
La Colonia School & Roatan Marine Park
On October 16th 2007, La Colonia School and the Roatan Marine Park took part in a joint effort to plant a new seed in the minds of the community of La Colonia.
The ever-increasing tourism industry in Roatan has prompted an unprecedented rate of human migration from mainland Honduras to the Bay Islands. These people often come from very poor areas of Honduras which never made a significant economic recovery from the impacts of Hurricane Mitch in 1998. Attracted by the desire to improve their own quality of life, many give up their families and communities to realize their dream of a decent salary. While salaries are higher on Roatan than on the mainland, the cost of living is also proportionately higher, and many of these migrants achieve no net economic benefit, while at the same time being away from their homes and families.
With high land prices in the touristic western half of the island, these immigrants have few choices of where to live. The majority live in La Colonia, a slum created over the past 8 years that is spreading up a steep valley originally containing dense pristine forest. As most of these people have little access to education, people are cutting down the forest on very steep ground in order to make way for poorly constructed housing. The steep inclination of the valley means that when it rains, water which would have been absorbed by vegetation in a natural system now cascades down the unpaved streets, bringing red clay, untreated sewage and trash gushing down the road and ultimately into the sea just a short distance away. The reef adjacent to this community is now regularly awash with trash and sediment, and the increase in nutrients from unrestricted runoff is causing algal blooms on the reef, killing corals.