Located on the watershed of the Río Plátano, the reserve is one of the few remnants of tropical rainforest in Central America and has an abundant and varied plant and wildlife. In its mountainous landscape, sloping down to the Caribbean coast, over 2,000 indigenous people have preserved their traditional way of life.
Located in the Mosquitia region of Northeastern Honduras, Río Plátano Biosphere Reserve is the largest protected area in the country with approximately 350,000 ha (865,000 acres). The property protects the entire watershed of the Río Plátano all the way from the headwaters in the mountains to the river mouth on the Caribbean Coast.
The reserve encompasses both mountainous and lowland tropical rainforest, full of diverse wildlife and plant life, and has more than 2000 inhabitants. The reserve is part of the Mesoamerican Biological Corridor that stretches from Mexico southwards through Central America.
Adding to its importance, the property is an integral part of a significantly larger conservation complex encompassing Tawahka Asangni Biosphere Reserve and Patuca National Park, among other protected areas.
Taken as a whole, the conservation complex in Northeastern Honduras is contiguous with Bosawas Biosphere Reserve in neighboring Nicaragua, jointly constituting the largest contiguous forest area in Latin America north of the Amazon. Besides the remarkable dense rainforests in the mountains, there is a highly diverse array of distinct ecosystems in the coastal lowlands, including wetlands, savannah and coastal lagoons.
Recognized as a nature conservation gem, the property also harbors notable archaeological and cultural values, with numerous pre-Columbian sites and petroglyphs, as well as the living cultures of the various local and indigenous communities.
Indigenous peoples and peoples of African descent in and around Río Plátano include the Pech, Tawahka, Miskito and Garífuna, living alongside the Mestizo (Ladino) population.
The property boasts an extraordinary diversity of ecosystems and species. For example, 586 species of vascular plants have been reported in the low lands of the reserve. The over 721 species of vertebrates comprise more than half of all mammals known to occur in Honduras and include the critically endangered Mexican Spider Monkey, the endangered Central American Tapir, the vulnerable Giant Anteater and West Indian Manatee, as well as the near-threatened Jaguar and White-lipped Peccary.
The endangered Great Green Macaw, the vulnerable Great Curassow and the near-threatened Guiana Crested Eagle and harpy eagle stand out among the impressive 411 documented species of birds.
Taken together, reptiles and amphibians total about 108 species, with several species of poisonous snakes and 4 species marine turtles (Loggerhead, Leatherback, green turtle and hawksbill turtle). Freshwater fish include the economically important migratory Bobo Mullet or Cuyamel.