What was once a “Great Reserve” is now four protected areas
In 1999, the Presidency of the Republic of Nicaragua, through decree 66-99, declared the formation of the “Biosphere Reserve of the Southeast of Nicaragua.”
As part of this decree, the Great Indio-Maíz Biological Reserve was fragmented to give life to four new protected areas: Río San Juan Wildlife Refuge, Punta Gorda Natural Reserve, Cerro Silva Natural Reserve and Indio-Maíz Biological Reserve.
According to Decree 66:99, this measure was intended to update and specify the categories and limits of the protected areas located in the territory of the Southeast of Nicaragua.
But this decision was also influenced by the problems generated by the location of the town San Juan del Norte within the Great Biological Reserve and conflicts with settlers in the Punta Gorda sector.
Thus, as of 1999, the Indio-Maíz Biological Reserve was established with an area of 2,639.8 km2, which are shared by the towns of Bluefields, San Juan de Nicaragua and El Castillo.
This reserve is considered one of the best preserved tropical rainforest areas in all of Nicaragua and Central America. In addition, it represents the number one core zone of the Río San Juan Biosphere Reserve.
What is a biological reserve?
The State of Nicaragua, according to the General Law of the Environment and Natural Resources, recognizes ten categories of protected areas for our country.
One of them is the category of “Biological Reserve” which, according to this law, are extensive areas that have unaltered representative eco-regions and therefore ecosystems, geological and physiographic features and/or species of great scientific and representative value, mainly destined to scientific research and/or ecological monitoring activities.
These vast areas have three objectives:
Preserve — essential ecosystems, habitats, species, and ecological processes in the most natural state possible.
Maintain — genetic and hydrological resources and processes in a dynamic and evolutionary state.
Safeguard — the structural features of the landscape.
In Nicaragua there are only two biological reserves, the Cayos Miskitos Biological Reserve and the Indio Maíz Biological Reserve.
According to the laws of Nicaragua, the activities that are allowed in the biological reserves are:
Environmental education — to provide knowledge about the dynamics of nature and its interrelationships between flora and fauna, for their conservation.
Research and monitoring — to learn more about the natural potential, the forest and associated fauna, and contribute to the definition of conservation actions and adequate management.
Protection and control — to protect the forest and associated fauna from illegal logging, hunting, pollution, among other threats that endanger the existence of this reserve.