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to leaders of other cooperatives who were never able to work because access to the forest

was never granted. The situation is especially critical in the Department of Olancho,

which is the epicenter of commercial logging in Honduras. Groups wishing to operate on

national forest land face an uphill battle to gain rights to forest coveted by powerful

commercial loggers. In an area near Gualaco, Olancho, the author visited four

cooperatives who had been waiting more than three years for permission to tap resin in

the forests around their communities. “We go to the COHDEFOR office, and they tell us

that they will come visit our community to show us where we can tap trees. Then they

never show up. They only work for the loggers who pay them bribes.”

The ability to defend tenure rights is also important, and these cooperatives have

all had to defend against threats to their forests. The three cooperatives occupying

communal land and holding their own titles would seem to have the most security, but

they have fought serious threats to their land rights for many years. The group that

appeared to have the least security, Cooperativa Guadalupe, encountered almost no

challenges to their occupation of the forest for more than 20 years because of the low

economic value of their forest. Villa Santa defended their forest against loggers and

sawmills because of their organization and collective voice. The current threat to both

Guadalupe and Villa Santa has been the disturbance caused by the pine bark beetle.

Farmers are now invading dead patches of forest to plant crops and put up fences. With

crops being planted where the forest once was, the regeneration of the forest is not

certain. It may be possible for the squatters to gain legal title to the land after three years.


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