Learn More: Nicaragua
DEVASTATED BY HURRICANES, earthquakes, and a decade-long civil war, Nicaragua is struggling to redefine itself as a stable democracy. Nicaragua is home to the some of the largest expanses of rain forests in Central America, with more than 1/5th of its land designated as protected areas. However, these protected lands, and the people who depend on them, are jeopardized by threats ranging from deforestation, migratory agriculture, illegal logging, and migration to urban areas.
Once rain forest is cleared for farming, pasture, or logging, the soil erodes rapidly, vastly degrading the fertility of the land. As once lush tropical forest is converted to pasture and milpas (corn, rice or bean plantations), the rate of erosion and soil depletion is accelerated, thus exacerbating the level of poverty and malnutrition amongst rural farmers.
Working in the remote South Atlantic region of Nicaragua or RAAS (Región Autonomo del Atlántico Sur) since 2000, SHI-Nicaragua (also called Fundación Nicaragüense Cosecha Sostenible or FUNCOS) is assisting Nicaraguans who fled war and trepidation, providing them the skills necessary to attain a sustainable existence in an environmentally sensitive area. Currently field staff in Kukra Hill and Kukra River are training local farmers and their families on silvopastoralism (forest management that allows sustainable production) and agroforestry (farming integrating trees and shrubs into crop growth) techniques to reduce further ecological degradation and provide basic human sustenance. In the fall of 2008, SHI-Nicaragua began construction on the Center for Families and the Environment, a twelve acre farm that offers hands-on workshops for participant families and staff in the sustainable farming techniques employed by SHI. The integrated and entrepreneurial features of the farm contribute to the sustainable longevity of the Nicaragua program.