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The Gap Year Blog

Deforestation in Belize

26 Jul 2020 10:25 AM
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Belize is a diverse country, known for its extreme biodiversity and distinctive ecosystems – on the coast, there is a swampy coastal plain and in the south, there are hills and low mountains. According to Travel Belize website, most of the land is undeveloped and is forested with hardwoods. The source says that Belize is a part of Mesoamerican biodiversity, has many jungles, wildlife reserves and different species of flora and fauna.

 

Belize is located in Central America and has the lowest population density in Central America with only 25 people per square mile. Despite being less than 23,000km2, Belize holds a globally significant diversity of plants and animals. Due to this ecoregion’s geographic location, the presence of elements of the flora and fauna needs to be taken into consideration.

 

According to Global Forest Watch, 80% of Belize had natural forest cover in 2000, but between 2001 and 2019 we lost an estimated 235,000 hectares of forest cover - most of which was caused by commodity-driven deforestation. This ecologically important wildlife corridor needs to be protected, as majority of the forest cover in Belize is located outside of national reserves. Losing forest cover means losing tourism and biodiversity – the area hosts one of the world’s richest assemblages of biodiversity, with varied species such as howler monkey, jaguar or Baird’s tapir. Some species can be found nowhere else on Earth, including Maya knobtail dragonfly or Maya Mountains frog.

 

 

Maya knobtail dragonfly is endemic to Belize. Its natural habitats are said to be subtropical or tropical moist lowland forests and rivers. It is threatened by habitat loss. Another animal that is endemic to the Belizean pine forests ecoregion is Maya Mountains frog – its natural habitat are tropical moist lowland forests and rivers.

 

The forests play crucial role in minimising the impacts of climate change on the weather systems – that are becoming increasingly unpredictable and harsh – and coastal towns. They preserve the quality of water from Mesoamerican Barrier Reef to provide it for local communities. Moreover, they support marine diversity life from whales and dolphins to ray species and tropical reef fishes.

 

There is increasing pressure on Belize’s natural environment, where wildlife hunting and extraction of timber are endangering the area’s diversity. Fоrtunаtеlу, thеrе аrе ѕuѕtаіnаblе аnd есоnоmісаllу vіаblе аgrісulturаl аltеrnаtіvеѕ tо сlеаrіng thе lаnd.

 

Manuel Esquivel, Past Prime Minister of Belize, said: “We must allow our children the right to experience the beauty of Belize that we have had the fortune to share. We must, in addition, teach the next generation the idea of conservation for, if we fail, we had better teach them survival.”

 

 

There are many conservation groups and efforts that move towards the conservation of particular species of groups or animals or aimed at entire habitats such as the reef system. There are currently 103 protected areas throughout the country of Belize. In order to help Belize become a leading country in conservation, Frontier has been organising volunteering projects, as the opportunity of getting involved in these initiatives and making a lasting impact on the sustainability of this beautiful location.

 

Frontier’s projects in Belize include conservation of marine, manatee, beach and mangrove. The research camp is located on the island of Caye Caulker that offers a unique experience for marine and coastal conservation, where our volunteers and staff members are working on conservation initiatives in partnership with the Belizean government.

 

Would you like to help with conservation of Belize? Join our volunteer projects here.

 

By Julita Waleskiewicz, Online Journalism Intern

Frontier runs terrestrial and marine conservationcommunity and adventure projects in over 50 countries - join us and explore the world!