• Belize: Land acquisition for the Maya Forest Corridor (2021)

  • by Robin Moore

    Belize: Land acquisition for the Maya Forest Corridor (2021)

  • Belize: Land acquisition for the Maya Forest Corridor (2021)

  • by Robin Moore

    Belize: Land acquisition for the Maya Forest Corridor (2021)

  • by Tony Rath

    Belize: Land acquisition for the Maya Forest Corridor (2021)

  • by Lennart Verheuvel

    Belize: Land acquisition for the Maya Forest Corridor (2021)

In Brief

Location:

Central Belize, north of the Western Highway between Belize City and Belmopan.

Goal:

Increased protection of the wildlife corridors and habitats that link northwest Belize with the southwest Belize.  This also add tremendous value to the adjacent and much larger Maya Forest Biosphere Reserve in Guatemala and Mexico.

Conservation Value:

The small country of Belize (half the size of Nova Scotia) has the lowest population density of all countries in Latin America (16 people/km2 – less than half that of the U.S.).  The forests of central Belize connect two of the largest areas of unbroken protected habitat in Mesoamerica, the tri-national Maya Forest shared between Belize, Mexico and Guatemala comprising ~7,600,000 acres and the Maya Mountains comprising ~1,200,000 acres, uniting them as the single largest forest block north of the Amazon. The Belize Maya Forest Corridor consists includes gallery forst, pine savanna, rivers and freshwater lagoons.  Its broadleaf tropical forests constitute important habitats for diverse resident and migratory birds, including the globally Endangered non-migratory yellow-headed Amazon (Amazona oratrix) and the Great Currasow (Crax rubra), an important indicator of healthy forests. Several endangered mammal species make this forest their home, including the Baird’s tapir (Tapirus bairdii), the Yucatán spider monkey (Ateles geoffroyi yucatanensis), Central American spider monkey (Ateles geoffroyi) and the Yucatán black howler monkey (Alouatta pigra). The Critically Endangered Central American river turtle (Dermatemys mawii) may still occur in the creeks and lagoons of the Cox Lagoon wetlands, and this site has been determined as a viable location for rewilding and protection of the species in Belize. This species is one of the world’s most endangered turtles and is entirely unique in evolutionary terms. Also known locally as the Hickatee or Tortuga Blanca, it is the only living species in the family Dermatemydidae. Other threatened fauna include jaguar, white-lipped peccary, Morelet’s crocodile, and aplomado falcon. 

Threats:

This property was under immediate threat from conversion to sugar cane.  Belize Central Corridor is bisected by a major roadway, the Western Highway.  In recent decades, development has increasingly fragmented the natural corridor linking hundreds of thousands of hectares of forest across the north and the south.  Threats include habitat conversion for cattle grazing and agriculture,  unsustainable hunting and poaching, illegal logging, and human-induced fires.

Actions & Results:

In collaboration with Re:wild and other funders, ICFC contributed toward the purchase of a 14,064-acre parcel that helps link a large patchwork of other privately protected areas that form the Belize Maya Forest Corridor. 

Project Field Partner:

Maya Forest Corridor Trust

Cost:

Cost to ICFC (2021): US$500,000.  Other contributors: National Philanthropic Trust, Global Wildlife Conservation (now Re:wild), Rainforest Trust, Liz Claiborne Art Ortenberg Foundation, and an anonymous foundation.

Size of Area Involved:

14,064 acres (5691 ha)

Gallery

Click to enlarge an image

Jabiru
Jaguar by christian sanchez
Northern potoo cpaul b jones
Yellow-headed parrots

In More Depth...

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