Private reserve owners bet on hotel, adventure, nature and scientific tourism
By Auxiliadora Rosales
Translation: Sheila A. Slick
The latest research from the Private Wild Reserves Network (RSP) shows that in Nicaragua as of 2016 there are 95 private reserves declared by MARENA. Of these, 50 are grouped in the network but only 15 work in the hotel industry or offer a tourism product and only 2 are economically profitable, Montibelli in Ticuantepe, Managua and Sábalos Lodge in Río San Juan.
“The rest do not count with the full occupation that is required to be profitable. For now, tourism is being subsidized with the certainty that soon we will reach the goal. We are visiting a little bit and hope in the diversification of tourism “, says the biologist, Mirna Monada, president of the Private Wild Reserves Network.
The specialist says that tourism is the activity that has the most economic potential for development in the country. Since it covers a range of offers, it can permeate the productive sector and change the mentality of people to produce, in a sustainable way and in order to have a better income.
The RSP also seeks to develop nature tourism, adventure tourism, and even scientific tourism, with the establishment of biological stations. “We have a significant biodiversity in terms of animal and plant species where studies and research can be done both for national and international researchers and universities,” says the president of RSP.
On the other hand, Pedro Joaquín Chamorro Barrios, the ex-minister of tourism, has said that with the growth of tourism in Nicaragua directed towards sustainable tourism, these reserves have begun to be profitable proving that it is more profitable to preserve than to prey. “They are operated by entrepreneurs who opted for sustainable tourism and whom gradually see the economic light of day as international and national tourists visit them, from those demanding intimate contact with nature and value the preservation. Caring for nature has proven to be profitable and leaves a legacy to future generations. ”
RADIOGRAPHY OF the Private Wild Reserves Network (RSP)
The president of the RSP affirms that private reserves invest time, money and good will. However, in Nicaragua, there is no payment for environmental services or goods so it is financially unsustainable. “The only solution we have to make our reserves sustainable is through tourism. So we have chosen to build hotels and provide services to earn profits,” says Moncada.
The reserves associated with the Private Reserves Network total 8,500 hectares of forests that capture 40,000 tons of carbon and infiltrate 24 million cubic meters of water annually while preserving scenic beauty. “No one pays these public services due to a lack of mechanisms. What is happening in Costa Rica is characterized by a culture of preservation of the environment and achieving the goal of a “neutral carbon” country. The conservation of the forest is paid based on the recognition and appreciation of environmental services “, states the President of the RSP.
Without doubt, the payment for environmental services in Costa Rica, offers a successful consolidated experience of a system that has national coverage, and articulates an institutional management promoted as public policy, for nearly four decades.
These policies aimed at strengthening the forestry and environmental protection sector and were initially the result of payment of forestry incentives. These evolved towards the valuation and payment of environmental services, and recently as a mechanism to stimulate the development of carbon markets within specific sectoral strengthening perspectives, and as part of strategies integrated into national development plans.
He explains that “Nicaragua has been left behind since the 1980’s at the first Climate and Environment Development Summit where payment for environmental services was established. In this time of climate change, conservation is the most important activity of the planet for the neutralization of carbon which produces climatic change, the climatic debacle in which we live “.
He adds that “in Nicaragua, unfortunately, governments are insensitive. They still do not have the vision of facilitating, protecting and caring for the environment. Marena works independently from all productive activity and it should not. Those who sow sorghum and African palm, amongst others, are not interested in destruction of the jungles, but need figures to be reflected in the GDP, “points out Moncada.
PRODUCTION AND CONSERVATION
According to Moncada, Nicaragua has been working the same agricultural model for 500 years, and is one of the countries in the world that loses the most soil due to bad practices. “With the cutting of trees we lose a lot of vegetation cover because the soil is exposed and the water does not infiltrate. Our Phreatic mantle
every day becomes more empty because it is the roots of the trees that allow the infiltration of water. Bad construction practices add up because people are building where they should not.
An example is the sub-basin 3 in Managua that encompasses the entire area of Ticuantepe, La Concha, Nindirí, the road to Masaya, and Sábana Grande. This is an area where you should just not build, but it is where most urbanizations are found. That means we have no public policy. ”
He adds that “we have 40 years of requesting a law for territorial regulation that has been reviewed and submitted to the National Assembly during each period but has not been approved due to lack of vision.”
Remember that “ecology and our natural resources are the most important assets that the country has to develop and instead of protecting them we are devastating them. It is a combination of madness and ambition since they are more interested in short-term gains than the sustainability of the country ”
The president of RSP explains that not all the territory of the private reserves is conserved. A part is being used for agroforestry activity where trees, livestock, pastures or foliage are integrated as a productive unit.
“The biggest myth is to believe that there can be no trees where there is livestock because the grass will not grow. You can make fences with trees and have trees in the middle of the livestock that benefit from the shade, “says Moncada.
RSPs also work on the conservation and protection of watersheds and micro-watersheds. Their funding is nil, since banks do not finance such initiatives that are of such benefit to the country. “Small steps have been taken with private companies. For example, the National Brewery pays 25 farmers of the town’s plateau to infiltrate water. Although it is a very small quota, the initiative exists. We have knocked on the doors of companies but with their lack of environmental sensitivity it is very difficult to obtain support “.
In Nicaragua there are many companies and factories, as well as rice and cane producers, that need to infiltrate their waters. All of them use water intensively and should pay for the use of water, but as long as there is no national policy there is no progress.
Moncada points out that “once the damage done to the environment is known, awareness is raised. This needs to be accelerated, because the country’s environmental degradation rate does not stop, and is progressing much faster than the pace of awareness and measures being taken. In the last four years alone, we have lost 660 thousand hectares of forests. That is unsustainable and if we continue, in less than 8 years we will have a new Ethiopia here. ”
Private reserves with tourist offers:
- Hato Nuevo, Municipality of El Viejo, Chinandega;
- Montibelli, Ticuantepe, Managua;
- Quelantaro, Villa El Carmen, Managua;
- La Máquina, La Boquita, Diriamba;
- Concepción de María, Jinotepe;
- Domitila, Nandaime, Granada;
- El Tule, Granada;
- Estancia del Congo, El Menco, Rivas;
- El Jaguar, Comarca El Mojón, Jinotega;
- La Sombra, El Tuma La Dalia, Matagalpa
- Esperanza Verde, Comarca La Chispa, San Ramón, Matagalpa;
- Punta Mayales Farm, Chontales;
- Greenfields, Kukra Hill, RAACS
- Sábalos Lodge, El Castillo, Río San Juan
- El Quebracho, en El Castillo Río San Juan
4 Private Wild Reserves you should visit
They are a world filled with adventure and discovery. They offer direct encounters with the heart of nature and its green splendor. These are places where biodiversity is preserved, where the environment is conserved and the well-being of the local population is improved.
1-Montibelli in Ticuantepe, Managua
Forms part of the Sierras of Managua and is characterized by a topography of steep slopes from where you can appreciate landscapes of great scenic beauty. It has 166 hectares of dry tropical forest, of which 148 hectares are dedicated to the conservation and natural regeneration of the forest, 22 hectares are dedicated to the cultivation of shade coffee, and 8 hectares to the cultivation of lemons, pitahaya, banana, pineapple and Jamaican flowers. All of the crops are organic.
Its ecolodge offers 10 rooms with a rustic and comfortable style. All rooms have stunning views of the dry tropical forest. In the restaurant, you can enjoy typical Nicaraguan and international dishes, natural refreshments and organic coffee from the estate.
You can do birdwatching tours to the Chocoyero reserve, visit the Masaya volcano and agritourism estates located in the vicinity of Montibelli.
2- Sábalos Lodge in San Juan River
Located on the banks of the San Juan River, 25 km from the Indio Maíz Nature Reserve, this is a place where you can live unforgettable experiences and keep beautiful memories. Ideal for tourists with an adventurous spirit and nature lovers. Tourists can visit the castle fortress, swim, kayak, canoe, horseback ride, trek in the middle of the jungle, take a cocoa tour, watch alligators, visit the Indian Maíz reserve, the archipelago of Solentiname and bird island.
It’s 10 riverside cabins present rustic decorations elaborated with natural materials. There is also a bar and restaurant.
It is a remnant of a humid tropical forest in conservation and functions as a small but significant example of a containment block before the advances of the agricultural frontier within the San Juan River wildlife refuge of Nicaragua.
3- La Sombra, Massif of Peñas Blancas, Matagalpa.
It is a coffee hacienda with an eco-lodge. Declared a wild reserve in 2004, 174 of 214 manzanas are cultivated with high altitude shade coffee. The remaining 40 manzanas are areas of tropical humid forests with streams and the crossing of the Caratara river with two waterfalls, El Edén and El Gavilán. Visitors can enjoy a refreshing bath in the crystalline waters of the mountain in its property.
There is much to do and see here, from walking beautiful trails, swimming in the waterfalls and ecological pool, horseback riding, learning about the metamorphosis of butterflies and the production process of coffee and other crops like blackberries, raspberries, coconuts, ayote and more.
You will be in direct contact with the flora (orchids, tree ferns) and fauna (quetzales, jaguars, pearls, toucans, monkeys, hummingbirds, guatusas) and be able to tour the Peñas Blancas massif and its enigmatic cliffs covered with forests over 100 meters high populated by endemic species.
Contact (505) 8455-3732 or 8468-6281 www.lasombraecolodge.com
4- El Jaguar, San Rafael del Norte, Jinotega
It is located 188 km north of Managua and at a height of 1,350 meters above sea level inside a cloud forest with cool mountain climate. Ideal for hiking and bird sighting. With more than 300 registered species of migratory and local birds, the area offers an incredible diversity of birds and a great variety of flora and fauna to be observed. It has a hotel, cabins, dining room and a biological station designed for groups of students and researchers.
The priority of the farm is to produce high quality organic coffee in a sustainable way and protect the biodiversity of the 95 hectares that constitute the reserve. It was declared an important area for bird conservation in 2006 by BirdLife International and its Important Bird Area (IBA) program.
Contact (505) 2279 – 9219 (505) 8886-1016