The Cacique Lempira, Señor de las Montañas Biosphere Reserve, which includes Celaque National Park, is located in the western part of Honduras. The ecosystem is primarily cloud forest and includes Cerro las Minas, the highest mountain in Honduras. The reserve hosts a large number of endangered and endemic species.
The Cacique Lempira, Señor de las Montañas Biosphere Reserve, which includes Celaque National Park, is located in the western part of Honduras and covers a total area of 168,634 ha (416,703 acres).
The ecosystem is primarily cloud forest and mixed forest (pine-oak), while part of the area has a highland landscape which includes the highest mountain in Honduras, Cerro las Minas, reaching an altitude of 2,849 m (9,347 ft).
The reserve hosts a large number of endangered and endemic species. The high rate of endemism among the wildlife has led Conservation International to designate the eco-region an Endemic Bird Area (EBA).
In total, there are 153,850 inhabitants mainly in the transition area, where most of the population is rural. The agricultural sector represents 87% of the economic activity with the main crops being corn, beans and, increasingly, coffee. The population living within the boundaries of the core and buffer zones is primarily originated from the Lenca ethnic group. This indigenous group has a strong influence on cultural traditions, social organization, subsistence agriculture and other forms of production.
Another potential sustainable economic activity is tourism, based on not only natural attraction of this proposed biosphere reserve, but also on cultural aspects, such as Catholic syncretic festivities, colonial architecture, and the Lenca route, which comprises sites and culture features important to this indigenous people. Tourism is promoted in the city of Lempira, which receives local and international tourists in growing numbers.
Celaque National Park was established in 1987 includes Honduras’ tallest peak, called Cerro Las Minas or Pico Celaque, which reaches approximately 2,870 m (9,416 ft) above mean sea level. It has an elevation ranging from 975 to 2,870 m (3,199 to 9,416 ft).
Celaque’s terrain is very rugged, two-thirds of the area has a slope greater than 60 degrees. The park is classified as a cloud forest.
Celaque’s nine rivers supplies water to 120 villages nearby including the district capital of Gracias. Celaque is high in biodiversity and is home to pumas, ocelots and Bolitoglossa celaque, an endangered plethodontid salamander found only in the mountains of Celaque.