Sico Paulaya Model Forest

In a nutshell

The Sico Paulaya Model Forest was conceived at the Sico Paulaya Environment and Production Table (MAPSP) in the Iriona municipality which, because of its location and difficult access, does not receive as much attention from national governments as other municipalities. This Model Forest is part of two important protected areas: the Río Tinto Sierra and the Río Plátano Biosphere, a UNESCO World Heritage site since 1982. The Model Forest has enabled MAPSP to establish better stakeholder articulation and local projection, as well as scaling up to the national level to work with government and cooperation agencies. Sharing our experiences both in and outside the country has strengthened our capacity to attract resources towards the territory, as well.

Some of the main challenges faced by the Model Forest are:

  • Reducing deforestation indexes and improving natural resource management;
  • Consolidating financial stability;
  • Obtaining legal status;
  • Achieving the acknowledgment, appropriation and effective involvement in the Model Forest by the local government and national entities, regardless of regime changes.


Iriona, the geographical area of the Sico Paulaya Model Forest, is a difficult to access and culturally, socially and naturally diverse rural territory. It comprises 11 villages and 125 settlements and communities, with more than 30,000 inhabitants. Iriona is a multicultural and multiethnic municipality composed of four different cultures: Garífuna, Misquito, Petch, and mestizo. Three entities are important in terms of development processes: the municipal government, community organizations, and NGOs.

Because of its size and location, the Model Forest offers a diversity of ecosystems— from coastal and marine systems, wetlands, and valleys, to the highland broadleaf forests. The municipality has 2,819.76 km2 of forest cover (71%), and 989.58 km2 (25%) of grassland and crops. The municipality covers more than 90% of the Río Tinto Negro Sierra and 24% of the Río Plátano Biosphere Reserve, and is therefore key to Mesoamerican Biological Corridor connectivity and continuity goals. Its main river basins are the Tinto/Sico, Paulaya and Plátano rivers.

The livestock and forest sectors are the most influential in generating income and labor, with livestock as the main productive activity, in particular cattle and dairy products. Agroforestry cooperatives fulfill an important role in sustainable forest resource management, as well as in local social and economic development. There is also subsistence basic grains farming.

Electricity is not available throughout the territory. Road infrastructure conditions limit transport services and is very expensive.


The Sico Paulaya Model Forest connects 48 organizations in the Iriona municipality, grouped into one of the five thematic areas it works on: forests, agriculture, water resources, social aspects, and protected areas. The Model Forest is mainly composed by community organizations, in addition to the Iriona municipality as its local government, national government institutions and NGOs.

The Model Forest is led by a Directorate (seven members) and a Supervising Committee (three members) elected by general assembly for a two-year mandate. A Coordinator/Manager is in charge of coordination and operations. The Model Forest Technical Advisory Group was created to support these managing organs, integrated by representatives from governmental and non-governmental institutions.

The Model Forest operates under bylaws and internal regulations and follows a Strategic Plan.

As part of the Model Forest organizational dynamic, the Directorate meets with Technical Advisory Group involvement to plan and coordinate activities. General Assembly meetings are convened, as well, to present technical and financial reports as part of the accountability process.


Strategic goals:

Sico Paulaya Model Forest goals focus on four issues:

  • Social development and equality;
  • Sustainable natural resource use;
  • Organizational capacity building;
  • Local economic development.

Key actions in place to reach these goals:

  • Participating in national management and incidence spaces and instances;
  • Following up and articulating initiatives and stakeholders at the territorial level;
  • Identifying and managing capacity building opportunities for Model Forest members;
  • Updating our community development projects portfolio;
  • Obtaining legal status and updating governance instruments (internal regulations and strategic planning).

Key impacts:

  • Articulation between stakeholders and territorial development actions;
  • Incidence on territorial planning policies and tools (Municipal Development Plan and bylaws);
  • An improved quality of life through community projects linked to natural resource management (clean energy using micro hydro turbines, clean water project, and photovoltaic energy, among others);
  • Strengthening stakeholder territorial management capacities.

Learn more about Sico Paulaya Model Forest :


El Bosque Modelo Sico Paulaya es miembro de:

  • La Red Hondureña de Bosques Modelo;
  • El Grupo de Acción Territorial de la Mancomunidad de Municipios Garífunas de Honduras (MAMUGAH);
  • El Comité Técnico Nacional AVA FLEGT;
  • El Comité Técnico Interinstitucional de Cambio Climático (CTICC);
  • El Comité Nacional de Salvaguardas Ambientales y Sociales de Honduras (CONASASH) para REDD+.


“Programa Regional de Cambio Climático de USAID: dos años de logros” CATIE-PRCC/USAID. (in Spanish)

“La Comunidad por el Bosque. Copen: Madera Acústica” FINNFOR/CATIE-MAP Project. (in Spanish)

“Mejores Prácticas Siguiendo la Madera: Desde las Comunidades hasta las Guitarras” EIA-WRI-USAID. (in Spanish)

“Gestión y Manejo Forestal Sostenible en el Valle de Sico Paulaya” ICF-Proyecto Ecosistemas/SERNA/SAG-GEF/PNUD. (in Spanish)

“Generando Energía Limpia a través de la Conservación de los Bosques en las Cuencas” ICF-Proyecto Ecosiste-mas/SERNA/SAG-GEF/PNUD. (in Spanish)

 “Los Bosques Modelo de Honduras” ICF-Proyecto Ecosistemas/SERNA/SAG-GEF/PNUD. (in Spanish)




Iriona, Colon

Area (ha):


Regional affiliation:

Latin-American Model Forest Network

Year joined IMFN:


Number of inhabitants:


Contact information


Osman Alvarado, President

Jaime Peralta, coordinator


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