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Sustainable Development and Wild Nature Conservation in Nicaragua

Conservation Science Research


The Nicaraguan economy and culture have revolved around ample access to forest resources from the arrival of the first humans. With globalization, population increases, and prosperity, forests and natural areas are facing challenges that each day are more difficult to characterize. The moving target of sustainability threatens the abundant nature found in Nicaragua. Today, Nicaragua's forests are threatened as never before, and they may disappear. GAIA participates in studies of natural resource use and management with the goal of contributing valuable insight into the discussions on policy nationally and internationally.

The following publications have resulted from research involving the GAIA Program on subjects of natural resource use and policy.

McCrary JK, Walsh B, Hammett AL (2005): Species, sources, seasonality, and sustainability of fuelwood commercialization in Masaya, Nicaragua. Forest Ecology and Management 205:299-309

Shillington L, McCrary JK, Walsh B,Hammett AL (2005): Complex connections: The role of non-timber forest products in urban and rural livelihoods in Nicaragua. Urban-Rural Interface Conference Proceedings, In Emerging issues along urban/rural interfaces: linking science and society. Conference Proceedings, Hilton Atlanta, Atlanta, Georgia, USA, 13-16 March 2005. (pp. 254-259). Auburn University.

McCrary JK, Hammett AL, Barany ME, Machado HE, García DJ, Barrios JI (2004): Illegal extraction of forest products in Laguna de Apoyo Nature Reserve, Nicaragua. Caribbean Journal of Science 40(2):169-181.

McCrary JK, Shillington LJ, Santana R, Hammett AL, Riviere J (2004): Participación de los productos no maderables del bosque en la economía informal: Un estudio de caso. Encuentro 69:58-68.

Barany ME, Hammett AL, Murphy BR, McCrary JK (2002): Resource use and management of selected Nicaraguan protected areas: A case study from the Pacific region of Nicaragua. Natural Areas Journal 22:61-69.

Hammett AL, McCrary JK, Bauer GP (1999): Forest Products in Nicaragua. Forest Products Journal 49(6):12-20.

Barany ME, Hammett AL, Shillington LJ, Murphy BR (2001): The role of private wildlife reserves in Nicaragua's emerging ecotourism industry. Journal of Sustainable Tourism 9(2):95-110.

Shillington, LJ (2002): Non-timber Forest Products, Gender, and Households in Nicaragua: A Commodity Chain Analysis. Master of Science Thesis, Virginia Tech. 137 pp.

You can help us keep nature wild in Nicaragua, by volunteering your time with us or making a small donation to support our projects in wild nature conservation.

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Dive Laguna de Apoyo

Amphilophus chancho, one of the fish species endemic to Laguna de Apoyo, discovered by scientists working in a GAIA project. This species is easily seen while diving in Laguna de Apoyo. Photo Ad Konings.


Nicaragua Spanish Schools

The Gaia Program experts support wildlife studies important to the economy of Nicaragua, such as the impacts of windmills on wildlife. A major wind farm in Rivas is located along an important bird migration corridor. Photo Pablo Somarriba.


Nicaragua Spanish Schools

Spanish classes are often held under the shade of huge trees with monkeys looking down. Apoyo Spanish School is the oldest of the intensive Nicaragua Spanish schools. Photo Jeffrey McCrary.


Apoyo Spanish School

A tour of students of Apoyo Spanish School to Catarina, with the lake and Granada in view. Photo Belén Camino.


Granada Nicaragua

San Juan de Oriente, on the edge of Apoyo crater, is the most important center of artisan ceramic pottery in Nicaragua. The municipalities incorporating the Laguna de Apoyo Nature Reserve are Masaya, Granada, Catarina, San Juan de Oriente, Diriá, Diriomo, and Niquinohomo. The Gaia Program supports natural resource conservation in the region which is vital to the traditional livelihoods throughout the area. Photo Jeffrey McCrary.


scuba dive

Scientific SCUBA diving in Laguna de Apoyo. The Gaia Program can provide logistical and scientific support for studies of ecosystems such as freshwater lakes and rivers, and tropical forests. We arrange, coordinate, and support internships and scientific partnerships throughout Nicaragua. Photo Topi Lehtonen.