Does the HOCC fund projects?
The HOCC's activities are divided between volunteer and professional non-compensated service, and grant-funded activities. Our grants are administered by third parties such as foundations and universities. We also raise funds via our Field Camps and Tours, the proceeds of which go to directly into supporting conservation and citizen science on the ground in Honduras, particularly via the ORCHIDS Field Station.
Does the HOCC run research expeditions?
We organize several multidisciplinary research expedition per year within the scope of our current projects. Depending on needs on the ground, we often search for researchers, collectors, birdwatchers, and other experts as well as amateur enthusiasts who can complement or augment our skills. Our institutional partner in Honduras is the ICF, and within our existing network of contributors we have specialists in various taxa who are in charge of coordinating collecting in their own fields. We are always searching for new researchers to affiliate with us, and welcome suggestions for the locations and themes of future expeditions. We are particulary interested in multi-tasking citizen scientists, and offer field conditions ranging from the primitive-but-comfortable to the extremely rugged.
How do I join an expedition?
You can volunteer, self-fund, help us find funding, or take advantage of existing funding. We may need your skills! However, before contacting us, please be aware that we operate by a very strict Code of Ethics -- contact us if you wish to peruse a copy. Because our focus is the community, we put the perceptions, rules, sentiments, and sensibilities of local people above all else, thus we are highly concerned with cultural sensitivity on the part of our expedition participants. In addition, because we sometimes operate in relatively unsafe areas, we place a premium on group cohesion, clear communication, and flexibility. To the extent of their abilities, all participants are expected to make public presentations on their findings immediately following each expedition, and are also required to submit a report to the HOCC on their preliminary findings.
Will the HOCC help me get a research permit?
Biological research permits for work in Honduras are obtained after a proposal and supporting documentation are submitted in Spanish to the ICF; for projects we partner with, we help this process along, but it can take many months and there are institutional fees associated with it running into the hundreds of dollars. Please note that it is possible to get a "constancia" from ICF to allow field research while the permit is being processed. It is extremely important to know that the research permit is just the first step for scientists who wish to export material--depending on the type, protected status and number of the specimens to be exported, several more steps are necessary to actually be able to transport material out of Honduras and into another country, involving various government agencies. Note that ICF requires regular updates from researchers, as well as a final report, and it is also usually necessary (and very important!) to leave duplicate specimens in the country at one or more research collections, and/or ensure that specimens get returned after analysis, when possible. Finally, and most importantly, the HOCC can facilitate the required partnering of foreign researchers with Honduran counterpart groups.
Does the HOCC have an official partner in Honduras?
The HOCC is itself Honduras-based, even though its steering committee coordinator (Mark Bonta) and steering committee members Robert Hyman, Deborah Atwood and Eva Bonta are currently based in the US. Though the HOCC is a network, its activities are centered more than anywhere else in the municipality of Gualaco through the charismatic leadership of Rafael Ulloa and Isidro Zuniga. The ORCHIDS Field Station, our physical base of operation, is located in Gualaco.
Where can I find publications and reports by the HOCC?
See the 'Reports' page.
Does the HOCC have a physical office anywhere?
We do not have one defined location--when not in the field, we communicate via Skype, email, and Facebook from our own homes, and we generally find accommodations in each others' homes when we are working on our projects "live." One of our primary objectives is to minimize our overhead costs outside of the actual regions where our funds and efforts are spent, thus being able to invest the vast majority of financial resources directly into local communities in the form of salaries and honorariums, supplies, payment for environmental services, and other benefits. As of 2015, our home in Honduras is the ORCHIDS Field Station in Gualaco.
Does the HOCC accept donations?
Absolutely! We particularly appreciate environmental education materials for children (in Spanish), field guides, binoculars, cameras, waterproof notebooks, and camping gear of any type, and can easily ship donations to Honduras. As of 2015, we are still trying to procure the donation of a dedicated 4WD field vehicle.
Honduras has so many dire problems. Does the HOCC really think it is making a difference?
Members of the HOCC have witnessed the spectacular successes and learned from the dismal failures of the Honduran environmental movement in its 25 years of intense activity. We are absolutely and equivocally convinced that the actions of a few have already made all the difference--after all, our affiliates include people such as Jorge Betancourt, Fito Steiner, and Pilar Thorn, who were among the founders of the movement back in the 1980s! We have already seen the municipality of Gualaco transform itself from a forgotten, environmentally-victimized backwater beset by illegal logging to the shining example of community forestry in Honduras, and our members Rafael Ulloa and Isidro Zuniga were among the catalysts of this amazing transformation. We have already seen the explosion in growth of community-based environmental NGOs, because many of us have been involved at some level in their formation. We have already witnessed a sea change in the attitudes and priorities of large development agencies such as the Inter-American Development Bank and the World Bank, as they seriously engage environmental concerns at all levels of their operations. We have already seen the phenomenal growth of Honduran bird-watching, the increase in "biophilia" among the general population, and the plethora of new, trained biologists graduating from Honduran institutions. We have seen new legislation that constantly improves the standing of environmental concerns, and we have helped write some of that legislation. We are convinced that more protected areas are needed and are working with the communities that are proposing them, because we have already been the catalysts for the formation of many of these areas. We could go on, but you get the idea -- vast problems remain and new problems spring up every day, but we are convinced that as we have already made vast differences through our individual endeavors, together we will have a critical, positive effect on the future.