Reducing pesticide runoff from the agricultural plantations in the Mesoamerican Reef watershed is critical to the conservation of its reef. The steep mountains of Honduras and the region's strong rains make agriculture a particularly serious threat to the reefs as large amounts of sediment and agrochemicals flow down to the sea. Pesticide runoff and increased sedimentation may cause reduction in the reproduction and viability of the corals along with affecting the health of local communities by contaminating marine species that are commonly consumed.
WWF is pioneering action in diverse agricultural sectors to reduce the use of pesticides and soil erosion. In June 2007, we reached an important milestone with the signing of a memorandum of understanding with two of Honduras' largest palm oil producer groups - Palmas de San Alejo (PALSA) and Agropecuaria Tornabé (AGROTOR) - sealing their commitment to responsible agricultural management.
The memorandum outlines a number of improved management practices, including better management for disposing empty agro-chemical containers, increasing plant cover to avoid soil erosion and reducing use of herbicides and fertilizers, especially nitrogen.