Land degradation and loss, as a result of intense deforestation, cultivation and grazing on steep slopes, or on low, humid lands that are unsuitable for this activity, is a major problem in Honduras.

The varied country's topography, with predominance of mountainous areas, constitutes a vulnerability factor due to the effect of deforestation and unsustainable agricultural practices. 72% of the national territory has slopes greater than 15%. Soils are predominantly forested (87.7%), but 35.6% of the territory has the capacity to be used for agricultural production; however, land use is not in accordance with its vocation and is currently mainly agricultural. Land degradation due to deforestation during the 2016–2018 period was 369.12 km², with an average annual loss of 200 km²/year in the last decade.

The main effects identified are: loss of forest cover, loss of fauna, erosion and loss of soil productivity, destruction and contamination of water sources, water scarcity, drought, flooding, subsistence agriculture, reduced agricultural yields, reduced and scarce production, food shortages, food insecurity, malnutrition, disease, unemployment, low income, poverty, reduced quality of life, emigration, ecological vulnerability, alteration of the climate order, and social decomposition.


Public consultations revealed that the main causes of the degradation of natural resources in Honduras include unsustainable agricultural production systems, high deforestation, insufficient environmental awareness, inefficient institutional performance and local organizations, poor enforcement of legislation, poor land use planning and inadequate use of technical and financial resources.

Economic forces and unsustainable patterns of agricultural development have contributed to erosion and land degradation, the most important of which include the following. 

Land use changes incompatible with the land capacity: the primarily forestry vocation of the land is in contrast to the agricultural vocation pattern of the population. About 70% of annual crops, over 60% of perennial crops, and 45% of the existent extensive cattle ranching are established on forest soils.

Rural poverty and marginality: most agricultural land users are poor families whose activity is mainly for subsistence or domestic consumption, with high production risks and low level of technology, which forces them to expand into new areas.

Lack of land-use management strategies and practices: the high rate of deforestation contributed to the systematic alteration of the hydrological regime, resulting in floods, droughts, and high erosion levels.

Limited access to means of production support: the low coverage and quality of public and private technical assistance services aimed at small and medium-sized producers has not allowed for the improvement of production systems.

Dispersed and inconsistent legal and institutional framework: the dispersion of provisions and the lack of institutional coordination do not allow for an adequate implementation of regulations.

Government granted permits for installation of hydroelectric power plants and mining operations, as Honduras is rich in minerals such as silver, zinc, and lead.

The expansion of oil palm cultivation for biofuel production also plays a major role.


Key policies and governance approach

As a party to the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification and Drought, which has been in force since 1997, Honduras’ has developed its National Action Plan to Combat Desertification and Drought (PAN-LCD) which proposes integral actions to attack the processes of land degradation. The Action Plan to Combat Desertification pursues, among other objectives, Sustainable Agricultural and Livestock Production, and the Management, Conservation and Reforestation of Priority Watersheds.

Under Strategic Axis 1 (Sustainable Agricultural and Livestock Production), Honduras’ aims to: transform at least 50% (30,000) of the existing agricultural holdings (according to the 1993 agricultural census), into farms with sustainable production systems; and transform at least 50% (10,000) of existing livestock farms (according to the 1993 agricultural census) into farms with sustainable livestock systems.

Under Strategic axis 2 (Management, Conservation and Reforestation of Priority Watersheds), Honduras’ aims to: apply organized and systematic land use planning and natural resource management measures, in the 76 municipalities in the Plan's area of influence, supported by their strategic municipal development plans; have at least 50% of the municipalities in the Plan's area of influence declared green municipalities (with zero burning); progressively reforest an area of 500,000 hectares in the Plan's area of influence, under a multi-purpose concept and a participatory process; maintain 228 priority micro-watersheds under integrated and sustained management (at least three per municipality), starting in the short and medium term with those considered to be of highest priority; and maintain at least 10 protected areas under collaborative management plans, contemplating well-defined buffer zone and protection zone management strategies.

Honduras’ is also implementing the Land Management Law, under Legislative Decree No. 180-2003, of November 2003.



The latest agriculture census in Honduras was carried out in 1993. The lack of relevant, up-to-date information makes the decision-making process challenging. A pilot of the agriculture census was conducted in 2019.


Initiatives and Development Plans

Honduras has a Monitoring and Evaluation System for the Country Vision 2010-2038 and the National Plan 2010-2022. The system includes indicators for each of the strategic lines of the plan.

Decree PCM-064-2018 of Honduras created the National Commission for the 2030 Sustainable Development Agenda.

The Alliance for the Dry Corridor Program seeks, among other objectives, to improve the food and nutritional security of 15,000 rural families by: creating sustainable agricultural systems to increase food production; supporting education and nutrition; and strengthening national and local institutions in the regions with the highest poverty rates. The program's intervention area includes 80 municipalities in the departments of Lempira, Intibucá, La Paz, Francisco Morazán, El Paraíso, Santa Bárbara, Ocotepeque and Choluteca.


Agriculture census and surveys that provide good quality information are badly needed.