Onil Rodríguez

Photo of the fellow Onil Rodriguez.

First declaration of a WHSRN site in Honduras: towards the conservation of shorebirds along the Gulf of Fonseca

Project Site: Gulf of Fonseca, Honduras

Sector: NGO

Discipline: Environmental Engineering, Conservation Biology, Policy, Economics

Collaborators: Comité para la Defensa y Desarrollo de la Flora y Fauna del Golfo de Fonseca (CODDEFFAGOLF); INCEBIO; WHSRN/Manomet; Oficina de Vida Silvestre del Instituto de Conservación Forestal. 

Onil majored in engineering in socio-economic development and environment at the Zamorano Panamerican School of Agriculture.  In 2014 he was awarded the German Academic Exchange System (DAAD) Scholarship to carry out his M.Sc. in Water Sciences at the Research Center for Aquatic Resources (CIRA-UNAN), Managua, Nicaragua. In 2016, he obtained a short-term scholarship from the General Secretariat of the Central American Integration System (SG-SICA) for an internship at the Biotechnology Laboratory at the Autonomous National University of Nicaragua. He also has a Diploma on Migration and Development Studies at the School of Latin American Social Sciences of Honduras (FLACSO).  His greatest motivation is to support initiatives for the conservation of water resources and wetland habitats, contributing with scientific research to develop effective public policies to benefit the environment and migratory shorebirds.

Onil’s project is located in the natural protected areas “Las Iguanas-Punta Condega” and “El Jicarito”, covering 11,000 hectares of an integral part of the Mesoamerican Biological Corridor “Pacific of Honduras”. These two protected areas on the Gulf of Fonseca were declared Ramsar sites in 1999. 

Map of Central America showing the location of the Gulf of Fonseca, Honduras.
Location of the Gulf of Fonseca, Honduras.

Punta Condega is composed of wide mangrove forests, estuaries and sandy beaches that are habitat for resident and migratory birds. El Jicarito consists of at least eight lagoons that flood in the winter and are used as feeding grounds and refuge for migratory birds. The main threats that this project will address include habitat loss caused by inadequate practices in the shrimp industry, especially in the management of water flows, and the absence of regulations to encourage communities to participate in conservation issues. 

The activities in the project include the development of a habitat conservation action plan supported by manuals of best-management practices in shrimp farming and water management, the creation of legal regulations that allow access to economic incentives to motivate communities to participate in conservation initiatives, the implementation of a standardized annual monitoring program as an indicator of ecosystem health and to expand knowledge on shorebirds in Honduras.

At the end, we expect three main products: the action plans for the natural protected areas, the creation of the economic conservation incentives for communities in the region, and key information on shorebirds in the region to guide conservation actions. 

Onil is mentored by Dina Morel, Economist and Director at Committee for the Defense and Development of the Flora and Fauna of the Gulf of Fonseca (CODDEFFAGOLF). With over 20 years of experience working with governance and management of natural resources across Honduras, she will contribute her expertise to this project, especially in the negotiations of new policy mechanisms with communities, government agencies and the private industry. 

The cross-sectoral collaborator is Manuel Andrade, an architect with experience on urban design, planning and 3D modelling. Other partners in the project include INCEBIO, an environmental non-profit in Honduras, the Western Hemisphere Shorebirds Reserve Network/Manomet, the Wildlife Office of the Institute for Forest Conservation (ICF), and the Honduran Ornithological Association (ASHO). 

Coastal Solutions Fellowship Program

The Coastal Solutions Fellows Program builds and supports an international community to design and implement solutions that address coastal challenges across the Pacific Americas Flyway. Our main goal is to conserve coastal habitats and shorebird populations by building the knowledge, resources, and skills of Latin American professionals, and by fostering collaborations among multiple disciplines and sectors.