El Imposible National Park
The Impossible is the largest national park of El Salvador. This protected area is considered the most important natural relic of a globally threatened dry tropical and dry tropical pre-montaneous forest ecosystem, but also for being one of the last refuges for an incredibly diverse wildlife community, source water resource for the area and owner of scenic beauty for sustainable tourism development. El Salvador is the most About tropical dry forests, you can read another interesting conservation project in Costa Rica here.
The park count nearly 1000 species of plants, 13 species of fish, 4 species of toads and 7 frogs, 19 species of lizards, 24 snakes, 1 turtle, 286 species of birds, 10 mammals (including the jaguar), over 5,000 species of butterflies. Inventories are still necessary to cover all the remote territory and discover new endemic species.
In 1989, by legislative decree, acquired the title El Imposible National Park and in 1991, SalvaNATURA received the grant by the State to administer the park, and becomes its co-management organization.
SalvaNATURA is a Salvadorean non-profit organization working in the area of environmental conservation. The NGO Conserv’Action gives us a nice presentation of their mission and activities.
In 2006 SalvaNATURA signed a technical cooperation agreement between the MARN (Ministry of Environment and Natural Resources), to strengthen, coordinate and consolidate the management of El Imposible National Park by running programs and subprograms Management Plan and under the guise of co-management.
As a co-manager of El Imposible, SalvaNATURA seeks to promote and implement activities for the protection, conservation, restoration and sustainable management of natural resources of the park which is currently the focus of increased biodiversity and scenic beauty in El Salvador.
SalvaNATURA works hard to identify funding sources to assist the implementation of the objectives and programs of The Impossible management and sustainable development of the communities near the park.
Management Zones are identified:
- Intangible Zone: 77% of Forest. Not used for transit or tourism visitation without extraordinary permission to preserve ecological processes. Only if approved by the authority, you could perform research, preservation, conservation and monitoring projects.
- Intensive Use Zone: 6% of the forest, where the tourist recreation and environmental education-communication are encouraged, trying to cause minimal impact on the natural environment and considering aesthetic aspects. Each sector can support up to a maximum of 300 tourists daily.
- Extensive Use Zone: 17% of the forest, that remains in a natural environment with minimal human impact. The controlled management of this area allows tourism and educational tours.
In addition, SalvaNATURA works together with buffer zones around the park through environmental education, promotion of appropriate technologies and tourism opportunities. These areas receive the benefits and environmental services of the Park, such as water, scenic beauty, biodiversity and carbon reservoir of carbon capture. It has an area of 58.954 hectares and consists of the municipalities of San Francisco Menendez, Tacaba, Guaymango Jujutla and who reciprocally affect development. See below an example about ecotourism.
For more on SalvaNATURA, please visit www.salvanatura.org/index.php
The Impossible receives over 8,000 tourists a year who visit these 4,000 hectares of forest, protected by 25 rangers and toured by a team of 20 local tour guides, to make contact with nature.
But tourists looking for adventure not found anywhere else in the country. The steep topography of El Imposible definitely becomes an opportunity for extreme hiking tours and take great pictures.
I recommend you to visit this beautiful natural area in a comfortable and secure environment is made possible through the continuing work of remodeling, development and rehabilitation of infrastructure for the use of tourists, thanks to the action of SalvaNATURA.
The Visitor center Mixtepe is located in the old part of the Hacienda San Benito, 100 meters after entering the park, by Sector of the same name. It is a large wooden house was restored in 1999 to accommodate an Interpretation Centre, an administrative office, offices for park rangers and guides, souvenir shop, viewpoint tower, parking and restrooms.
Hostal El Imposible
Outside the park, I met Mr. Epifanio Perez, president of the development association of the community of Caserío San Miguelito to talk about ecotourism as an opportunity to the local community and nature preservation. The association is in charge to run the Hostal El Imposible (15-years lease agreement with SalvaNATURA). The Hostal offers cabin-style lodging and a restaurant on site, serving typical food (like the creol chicken or gallina india) and offering little information about the park.
« We need more financial resources than the accommodation and restaurant incomes in order to develop a real product of ecotourism, as well as to benefit to the locals living conditions. »
For example, the management of garbage is a big problem. There is need to clean the village, the neighbours, collect and develop recycling to preserve the high environmental standards required by the vicinity of the national park and Biosphere reserve.
This is a big challenge, confesses Epifanio Perez, to stimulate and involve the eco-consciousness of inhabitants of the village. But this is worth it for both Nature and People.
I could just give them advises to use international volunteering to increase visitation of the hostel or to prepare application for international grants for ecotourism projects.