Without the support and involvement of communities, TIDE could not achieve its mission. It is integral that we in turn support the communities around the protected areas we manage. This ranges from including them in decisions that affect them to helping them develop sustainable, supplemental livelihoods.
Ecotourism is a big part of our Community Development Program. TIDE Tours markets ecotourism in Toledo, trains community members as tour guides and generates funding for TIDE’s education program. Most of the sixty, or so, individuals TIDE Tours has trained are now engaged in tourism and sustainable fishing.
We provide high school scholarships to enable talented youngsters to fulfil their potential and increase their economic prospects. In exchange, the students participate in environmental activities, including helping to run an annual summer camp for younger children and participating in clean-up campaigns.
As well as providing opportunities to individuals, we assist the whole community, for example providing garbage bins at schools, refurbishing the Rio Grande Fishing Cooperative and Punta Gorda Fish Market and most recently, constructing two barber shops that will be run by ‘out of school’ youths.
We empower community groups to organize and manage their natural resources. We have enabled the formation of two fishermen associations that include sustainable management among their goals. We are supporting community groups to restore forests along the Rio Grande and we are mentoring the Rio Blanco Mayan Association to manage the Rio Blanco National Park.
Local communities are involved in governing the protected areas we are responsible for. Community representatives sit on the Port Honduras Marine Reserve and Payne’s Creek National Park Advisory Councils, the Managed Access Committee and TIDE’s Board of Directors.
Community members are also involved on the ground. A Community Stewards Program provides training and support to enhance environmental stewardship. Participants then conduct environmental education in their communities. Through our Community Researchers Program, young locals with a passion for the environment are trained in SCUBA diving and scientific techniques then assist us to monitor biodiversity. We also have a Junior Community Stewards Program to stimulate environmental stewardship from a young age.
Community participation in conservation and sustainable development is the essence of TIDE. If you want to get involved, please contact us.