First-time visitors to Honduras may be surprised to find out that this modest-sized country houses a bewildering diversity of nearly 10,000 vascular plant species in a variety of ecosystems. Although many nature-lovers aren’t aware of it, Honduras has much more extensive intact cloud forest and rainforest than its more heralded neighbors, Costa Rica and Guatemala. Honduras also offers huge expanses of pine forest in the central highlands, kilometers of coastal mangrove forests, and even patches of rare dry tropical forests. All told, Honduras contains over a quarter of all the wildlife-rich forests in Central America.
According to a 2005 estimate, Honduras has 4.65 million hectares—or 42 percent of its territory—of forest cover. Of this total, 32.5 percent is primary forest, a combination of pine and broadleaf forest. This is similar to its neighbor, Nicaragua, which has the largest amount of forest cover in Central America with 5.2 million hectares of forest (43 percent of the country), followed by Guatemala, with 3.9 million hectares (36 percent of its land). The much-ballyhooed Costa Rica is second to last on the list, with only 2.4 million hectares, beating out only tiny, overpopulated El Salvador (which has a meager 0.3 million hectares).
Unfortunately, illegal logging is rampant, and deforestation rates have risen since the 1990s, with an annual deforestation rate estimated at 2.88 percent for the 2000–2005 time period, leading to an estimated loss of 37 percent of forest cover for the period 1990–2005.
© Chris Humphrey and Amy E. Robertson from Moon Honduras, 5th Edition