El Imposible - Barra de Santiago Conservation Area

FIAES’ work has focused for many years on the protection of these natural areas, through forest rangers, research, and infrastructure maintenance for the development of monitoring and tourism activities.

Conservation area municipalities

  • San Francisco Menéndez
  • Tacuba
  • Jujutla
  • Acajutla
  • Concepción de Ataco

“El Imposible” forest has the greatest biodiversity of flora and fauna species in the country, and is linked to the coastal areas of Santa Rita, Gamboa lagoon, and the mangroves of the Barra de Santiago.

The remarkable diversity of tree species is based in large part on the habitat diversity created by a broken topography, presenting distinct microclimates and soil types.

Another environmentally relevant site is the Barra de Santiago, a coastal marine ecosystem, made up of a mangrove forest and brackish and freshwater wetlands.


The “El Imposible” forest is home to approximately 400 species of trees, 500 butterfly species, 30 species of large mammals, 279 migratory bird species, and 13 fish species.

Mammals, including the kinkajou, and some species of birds, especially the king buzzard and the pajüil, find their last refuge here.

The Barra de Santiago is home to a significant population of adult and juvenile alligators hiding among the mangroves. Other representative species include iguanas and olive ridley sea turtles, which have recovered thanks to the protected natural area. Thousands of resident and migratory birds also reproduce here, and find ideal conditions for nesting.

Ecosystem services


There are camping and viewpoint areas throughout the area for tourists hoping to experience unforgettable moments in contact with nature.

Quality water

Seven rivers begin in this forest, which are habitat for many species of freshwater fish. Some studies show that these waters are very high in quality, both for local community consumption as well as for fauna development.


The Barra de Santiago allows for rational exploitation of a number of species of commercial significance. For example, blue crab is being produced for household consumption, as well as for the repopulation of this species. The mangrove is ideal for crab, shrimp, river crabs, and shellfish production, which make up part of the local diet; as such, their conservation is important.


Human activities such as hunting and the indiscriminate extraction of firewood and timber exact a continuous pressure on natural areas.

Change in land use from forest to farm land or pasture, resulting in areas without vegetation is a visible concern in this area.

This issues contribute to the deterioration of natural resources that negatively impacts the environment, economy and well being of the population.


environmental projects funded


project implementing organizations


years of fundraising and resourcing for conservation

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