Indio Maíz Biological Reserve
The Indio Maíz Biological Reserve is a remnant of the "Áreas Naturales Protegidas del Sureste de Nicaragua" established in 1990 during the first Sandinista government
. The region was reorganised as the "Reserva de Biosfera del Sureste de Nicaragua" in 1999 and was split up into four smaller protected areas
after the Bosawás Biosphere Reserve
had been reorganised in 1997.
Seventy percent of the reserve is also part of the territory administered by the autonomous Rama-Kriol Territorial Government
and is home to indigenous Rama
people. They gained the right to govern these territories by the revolutionary government
in 1987, and in response to international pressure now hold deed to the land since after 2002. This presents an unforeseen legal regime for the reserve which must yet be solved.
Most of the Biological Reserve is out of bounds to tourists and no hiking is permitted, only boat tours with guides at starting two locations: the Bartola River
at the western border near the village of El Castillo
, and Greytown
At the Bartola river entrance there is a small station with guards from the Ministry of Natural Resources
(MARENA), which can be hired as guides. Native American Rama people also can be hired as guides. It is possible to stay in old abandoned wooden Rama huts along the Indian River upstream from Greytown.
The climate of the reserve is classified as humid tropical rainforest
(Af) in the Köppen climate classification
with a mean annual temperature around 26 °C. It receives upwards of 4,000 mm of rain annually with a long wet season lasting from May to January, followed by a shorter slightly "drier" season from February to April. The soils are nutrient-poor ultisols with poor drainage.
Indio-Maiz boasts a large number in species of both flora
. It is home to 65 species of mammals including 4 species of wild cats
, 221 species of birds, 55 species of reptiles, 34 species of amphibians and 149 recorded insect species. Great green macaws
, Baird's tapirs (Tapirus bairdii
) and jaguars (Panthera onca
) have important population strongholds in the reserve.
Floristically, Indio Maíz is comparable to that of other Caribbean
lowland forests found on the eastern-facing slopes of Costa Rica
including the adjacent Barra del Colorado Wildlife Refuge
and Tortuguero National Park
, located immediately south of the reserve. Some of the woody species found include: Astronium graveolens
, Carpotroche platyptera
, Clavija jelskii
, Luehea seemanii
, Mansoa hymenaea
, Posoqueria latifolia
, and Sorocea affinis
. The palms Bactris hondurensis, Cryosophila warscewiczii,
sp. are found within the reserve.
Bactris hondurensis found growing in the understory.
Several species of herbaceous plants can be found in the understory, including the common Heliconia latispatha
. One of the largest species of Neotropical Araceae
, Dracontium gigas,
can also be found here. Like other tropical lowland forests throughout Central America, epiphytic
plants are also found in abundance. There is also a diverse array of ferns and lycopods present, such as Selaginella eurynota
The reserve is threatened by encroaching agricultural development as land is being developed into oil palm
and cattle pasture by settlers from the east. In the mid-1990s villages developed in the interior of the reserve, these were evicted in 2001, but since 2010 deforestation has returned. As of 2015 some 600 families are believed to inhabit the centre of the reserve. A number of groups have organised together as the " Unión de Organizaciones Ambientalistas" (UOA) in 2015 to coordinate a response, including the indigenous territorial government, Fundación del Río
, two local cocoa
, a tourism cooperative and the municipal network for water and sanitation. They would like the government to send in the army and police. In 2018 this group formed the "Batallón Cívico Indio-Maíz".
of November 2016, which crossed Central America into the Pacific directly through the Nicaragua-Costa Rica border region, has had a large effect on the woodlands and communities of the region.
In early April 2018, forest fires burned 13,500 acres (5,500 hectares) of the Indio Maiz Biological Reserve.
Dead wood left in the forests after the hurricane in 2016 may have fuelled the fires.
Environmental and indigenous rights activists protested
what they saw as an inadequate government response on the part of the Ortega
Counterprotests supported the Sandinista Front
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Last edited on 25 April 2021, at 16:11
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