List of protected areas of Belize

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This is a list of protected areas in Belize.


National parks[edit]

In Belize, national parks are areas designed for the protection and preservation of natural and aesthetic features of national significance for the benefit and enjoyment of the people. Therefore, they are areas of recreation and tourism, as well as environmental protection. National parks are gazetted under the National Parks System Act of 1981.[1] They are administered by the Forest Department and managed through partnership agreements with community-based non-governmental organisations.

List of national parks
Reserve District Size
(ha)
Size
(acres)
IUCN Co-management Est. Description
Aguas Turbias Orange Walk 3,541 8,750 II [note 1] 1994 [2]
Bacalar Chico Belize 4,510 11,100 V Green Reef Environmental Institute [note 2] 1996 Excludes adjacent marine reserve.[3][4]
Billy Barquedier Stann Creek 663 1,640 II Steadfast Tourism and Conservation Association 2001 [5]
Chiquibul Cayo 106,839 264,000 II Friends for Conservation and Development 1995 Excludes adjacent forest reserve.[6][7]
Five Blues Lake Cayo 1,643 4,060 II Friends of Five Blues Lake National Park 1994 [8]
Gra Gra Lagoon Stann Creek 534 1,320 II Friends of Gra Gra Lagoon 2002 [9]
Guanacaste Cayo 23 57 II Belize Audubon Society 1994 [10][11]
Honey Camp Corozal / Orange Walk 3,145 7,770 II Association of Friends of Freshwater Creek [note 3] 2001 [12]
Laughing Bird Caye Stann Creek 4,095 10,120 II Southern Environmental Association 1996 [13][14]
Mayflower Bocawina Stann Creek 2,868 7,090 II Friends of Mayflower Bocawina National Park 2001 [15][16]
Monkey Bay Belize 859 2,120 II Guardians of the Jewel [note 2] 1994 [17][18]
Nojkaaxmeen Elijio Panti Cayo 5,130 12,700 II Belize Development Foundation [note 4] 2001 [19][20][21]
Payne's Creek Toledo 14,739 36,420 II Toledo Institute for Development and Environment 1994 [22][23]
Peccary Hills Belize 4,260 10,500 II Gracie Rock Reserve for Adventure, Culture and Ecotourism 2007 [24][25]
Río Blanco Toledo 38 94 II Río Blanco Mayan Association 1994 [26]
Sarstoon-Temash Toledo 16,938 41,850 II Sarstoon Temash Institute for Indigenous Management 1994 Ramsar site.[27][28]
St. Herman's Blue Hole Cayo 269 660 II Belize Audubon Society 1986 [29][30]

Natural monuments[edit]

The Great Blue Hole is one of the most recognisable natural features in Belize.

A natural monument is designated for the preservation of unique geographic features of the landscape. The designation is primarily based on a feature's high scenic value, but may also be regarded as a cultural landmark that represents or contributes to a national identity.

Natural monuments are gazetted under the National Parks System Act of 1981;[1] marine-based monuments additionally come under the Fisheries Act. Of the five natural monuments in the country, three are terrestrial, administered by the Forest Department, while the remaining two are marine-based and come under the authority of the Fisheries Department.

List of natural monuments
Image Reserve District Size
(ha)
Size
(acres)
IUCN Co-management Est. Description
Actun tunichil muknal-pottery.jpg Actun Tunichil Muknal Cayo 185 460 Ia Belize Audubon Society; Institute of Archaeology 2004 Terrestrial.[31][32]
Blue Hole coral.jpg Blue Hole Belize 414 1,020 III Belize Audubon Society 1996 Marine.[33][34][35]
BZECAYE.jpg Half Moon Caye Belize 3,954 9,770 II Belize Audubon Society 1982 Marine.[36][37]
1,000 ft. Falls.png Thousand Foot Falls Cayo 522 1,290 III [note 5] 2004 Terrestrial.[38]
Victoria-peak-2.jpg Victoria Peak Stann Creek 1,959 4,840 III Belize Audubon Society 1998 Terrestrial.[39][40]

Nature reserves[edit]

Wilderness scene in the Bladen Nature Reserve.

The country's three nature reserves enjoy the highest level of protection within the national protected areas system. The designation was created for the strict protection of biological communities or ecosystems, and the maintenance of natural processes in an undisturbed state. They are typically pristine, wilderness ecosystems.

Nature reserves are legislated under the National Parks System Act of 1981.[1] It is the strictest designation of all categories within the country's national protected areas system, with no extractive use or tourism access permitted. Permits are required to enter the area and are restricted to researchers only. The nature reserves are under the authority of the Forest Department.

The oldest of these, Bladen Nature Reserve, forms the centrepiece of the Maya Mountains biological corridor, and is considered one of the most biodiversity-rich, and topographically unique areas within the Mesoamerican biodiversity hotspot.

List of nature reserves
Reserve District Size
(ha)
Size
(acres)
IUCN Co-management Est. Description
Bladen Toledo 40,411 99,860 Ia Ya’axché Conservation Trust; Bladen Management Consortium 1990 [41][42]
Burdon Canal Belize 2,126 5,250 Ia [note 6] 1992 [43]
Tapir Mountain Cayo 2,550 6,300 Ia Belize Audubon Society 1994 Formerly known as Society Hall Nature Reserve.[44][45]

Wildlife sanctuaries[edit]

Wildlife sanctuaries are created for the preservation of an important keystone species in the ecosystem. By preserving enough area for them to live in, many other species receive the protection they need as well.

Wildlife sanctuaries are gazetted under the National Parks System Act of 1981, and are the responsibility of the Forest Department.[1] There are currently seven wildlife sanctuaries, three of which are being managed under co-management partnerships, whilst the other four are managed under informal arrangements. Two of the following wildlife sanctuaries are considered to be marine protected areas, and may also have collaborative agreements with the Fisheries Department in place.

List of wildlife sanctuaries
Reserve District Size
(ha)
Size
(acres)
IUCN Co-management Est. Description
Aguacaliente Toledo 2,213 5,470 IV Aguacaliente Management Team [note 2] 1998 Terrestrial.[46][47]
Cockscomb Basin Stann Creek / Toledo 49,477 122,260 IV Belize Audubon Society 1997 Terrestrial.[48]
Corozal Bay Belize / Corozal 73,049 180,510 IV Sarteneja Alliance for Conservation and Development [note 2] 1998 Marine.[49][50]
Crooked Tree Belize / Orange Walk 15,372 37,990 IV Belize Audubon Society 1984 Ramsar site. Boundaries ill defined. Terrestrial.[51]
Gales Point Belize 3,681 9,100 IV Gales Point Wildlife Sanctuary Community Management Committee [note 2] 1998 Terrestrial.[52][53]
Spanish Creek Belize / Orange Walk 2,428 6,000 IV Rancho Dolores Development Group [note 2] 2002 Terrestrial.[54]
Swallow Caye Belize 3,631 8,970 IV Friends of Swallow Caye 2002 Marine.[55][56]

Forest reserves[edit]

Big Rock Falls in the Mountain Pine Ridge Forest Reserve.

Forest reserves, overseen by the Forest Department, are designed for the sustainable extraction of timber without destroying the biodiversity of the location. These are gazetted under the Forests Act of 1927,[57] which allows the department to grant permits to logging companies after extensive review. There are currently 16 forest reserves with a combined acreage of 380,328 hectares (939,810 acres), making up 9.3% of total national territory.[58]

List of forest reserves
Reserve District Size
(ha)
Size
(acres)
IUCN Est. Description
Caye Caulker Belize 38 94 VI 1998 Excludes adjacent marine reserve.[59]
Chiquibul Cayo 59,822 147,820 VI 1995 Excludes adjacent national park.[60]
Columbia River Cayo / Toledo 60,016 148,300 VI 1997 [61]
Deep River Toledo 27,232 67,290 VI [62]
Fresh Water Creek Corozal / Orange Walk 13,513 33,390 VI 1926 [63]
Grants Work Stann Creek 3,199 7,900 VI 1989 [64]
Machaca Toledo 1,253 3,100 VI 1998 [65]
Manatee Belize / Stann Creek 36,621 90,490 VI 1959 [66]
Mango Creek Stann Creek / Toledo 12,090 29,900 VI 1989 Comprises two separate segments.[67][68]
Monkey Caye Toledo 669 1,650 VI 1996 [69]
Mountain Pine Ridge Cayo 43,372 107,170 VI 1944 [70][71]
Maya Mountain Stann Creek 16,887 41,730 VI 1997 [72]
Sibun Cayo 32,849 81,170 VI 1959 [73][71]
Sittee River Stann Creek 37,360 92,300 VI [74]
Swasey Bladen Toledo 5,980 14,800 VI 1989 [75]
Vaca Cayo 14,118 34,890 VI 1991 [76]

Marine reserves[edit]

Coral patch in the Hol Chan Marine Reserve.

Marine reserves are designed for the conservation of aquatic ecosystems, including marine wildlife and its environment. The majority of these reserves contribute to the conservation of Belize's Barrier Reef, which provides a protective shelter for pristine atolls, seagrass meadows and rich marine life. The preservation of the Barrier Reef system has been recognised as a global interest through the collective designation of seven protected areas, including four of the following marine reserves, as a World Heritage Site.

Marine reserves are legislated under the Fisheries Act, and are administered by the Fisheries Department. One of the department's key responsibilities is to ensure the sustainable extraction of marine resources. There are currently eight marine reserves, management of which is either direct, by the department, or in partnership with non-governmental agencies.

List of marine reserves
Reserve District Size
(ha)
Size
(acres)
IUCN Co-management Est. Description
Bacalar Chico Belize 6,391 15,790 IV Green Reef Environmental Institute [note 2] 1996 Excludes adjacent national park. Divided into two zones: a conservation zone,[77] and a general use zone.[78][4]
Caye Caulker Belize 3,913 9,670 VI Forest & Marine Reserves Association of Caye Caulker 1998 Excludes adjacent forest reserve.[79]
Gladden Spit and Silk Cayes Stann Creek 10,514 25,980 IV Southern Environmental Association 2000 Divided into two zones: a general use zone,[80] and a conservation zone.[81][82][83]
Glover's Reef Belize 86,653 214,120 IV 1993 In 2001, the reserve was divided into four zones: a general use zone,[84] a conservation zone,[85] a seasonal closure zone,[86] and a wilderness zone.[87] A spawning aggregation zone was broken off in 2003 and comes under separate management (see below).
Hol Chan Belize 1,444 3,570 II Hol Chan Trust Fund 1987 Divided into four zones: Mangrove,[88] Seagrass,[89] Shark Ray Alley,[90] and Coral Reef.[91][92]
Port Honduras Toledo 40,470 100,000 IV Toledo Institute for Development and Environment 2000 Divided into two zones: a general use zone,[93] and a conservation zone.[94]
Sapodilla Cayes Toledo 15,618 38,590 IV Southern Environmental Association 1996 [95]
South Water Caye Stann Creek 47,702 117,870 IV 1996 [96][97]

Spawning aggregation sites[edit]

List of spawning aggregation zones
Aggregation zone District Size
(ha)
Size
(acres)
IUCN Est. Description
Dog Flea Belize 576 1,420 IV 2003 [98]
Emily or Glory Caye Belize 0 0 IV 2003 [99]
Gladden Spit Belize 1,617 4,000 IV 2003 Managed as part of Gladden Spit and Silk Cayes Marine Reserve.[100]
Nicholas Caye Belize 673 1,660 IV 2003 Managed as part of Sapodilla Marine Reserve.[101]
Northern Glover's Reef Belize 621 1,530 IV 2003 Managed as part of Glover's Reef Marine Reserve.[102]
Rise and Fall Bank Belize 1,721 4,250 IV 2003 [103]
Rocky Point Belize 570 1,400 IV 2003 Managed as part of Bacalar Chico Marine Reserve.[104]
Sandbore Belize 521 1,290 IV 2003 [105]
Seal Caye Toledo 648 1,600 IV 2003 [106]
South Point Lighthouse Belize 533 1,320 IV 2003 [107]
South Point Turneffe Belize 558 1,380 IV 2003 [108]

Bird sanctuaries[edit]

Little Guana Caye plays host to the largest colony of reddish egrets in the Caribbean.
Further information: List of birds of Belize

The seven bird sanctuaries are some of the country's oldest protected areas established for the purpose of biodiversity conservation. They were gazetted in 1977 as crown reserves for the protection of waterfowl nesting and roosting colonies.[58] They were later reorganised under the National Parks System Act in 1981.[1] They are under the jurisdiction of the Forest Department. All of them are tiny islands with a combined surface area of 6 hectares (15 acres).[58]

All the sanctuaries are nesting and roosting sites for wading birds, though the species vary.

List of bird sanctuaries
Reserve District Size
(ha)
Size
(acres)
IUCN Est. Description
Bird Caye Belize 0.5 1.2 IV 1977 [109]
Doubloon Bank Orange Walk 1.5 3.7 IV 1977 [110]
Little Guana Caye Belize 1 2.5 IV 1977 [111]
Los Salones Belize 1 2.5 IV 1977 [112]
Monkey Caye Toledo 0.5 1.2 IV 1977 [113]
Man of War Caye Toledo 1 2.5 IV 1977 [114]
Unnamed Caye Belize 0.5 1.2 IV 1977 [115]

Archaeological reserves[edit]

Overlooking the Caracol ruins, the most extensive archaeological site in the country.[116]
Further information: Maya ruins of Belize

Before the arrival of Europeans in America, Belize lay in the heartland of the Maya civilisation, and consequently contains some of the earliest and most important Maya ruins.[117] Archaeological findings at Caracol, in the southern end of the country, have suggested that it formed the centre of political struggles in the southern Maya lowlands.[117] The complex covered an area much larger than present-day Belize City and supported more than twice the modern city's population.[116] Meanwhile, Lamanai, in the north, is known for being the longest continually-occupied site in Mesoamerica, settled during the early Preclassic era and continuously occupied up to and during the area's colonisation.[117]

While the majority of reserves under this category are related to the pre-colonial era, Serpon Sugar Mill and Yarborough Cemetery, both designated in 2009, only date from the 19th century and are alternatively described as historical reserves.[118]

The country's 15 archaeological sites are managed by the Institute of Archaeology, a branch of the National Institute of Culture and History (NICH),[58] which comes under the authority of the Ministry of Tourism, Civil Aviation and Culture.[119] This type of protected area was gazetted under the Ancient Monuments and Antiquities Act, 1 May 1972.[58][120] All of the following reserves are open to the public. Many other sites, such as Cuello and Uxbenka, are located on private land and can only be visited if prior permission is obtained from the landowner.[117]

List of archaeological reserves
Image Reserve District Size
(ha)
Size
(acres)
IUCN Est. Description
Altun Ha overview.jpg Altun Ha Belize 15.5 38 II 1995 [121][122]
BartonCreekBZE.jpg Barton Creek Belize 2.0 4.9 II 2003 [123][124]
Cahal Pech Belize.jpg Cahal Pech Cayo 9.0 22 II 1995 [125][126]
Belize caracol.jpg Caracol Cayo 10,339 25,550 II 1995 [127][128]
Cerros1.jpg Cerro Maya Corozal 10 25 II 1976 [129][130]
Tzunuun El Pilar.jpg El Pilar Cayo 771 1,910 II 1998 [131][132]
Lamanai Jaguar temple.jpg Lamanai Orange Walk 396 980 II 1985 [133][134]
Lubaantun walls.jpg Lubaantun Toledo 16 40 II 1995 [135][136]
Marco Gonzalez Belize 3.1 7.7 II 2011 [117][137]
Nim Li Punit ballcourt.jpg Nim Li Punit Toledo 24 59 II 1985 [138][139]
Nohoch Che'en Cayo 7 17 II 2010 Also known as Caves Branch. Formerly a private reserve owned by Jaguar Paw.[140][141]
Santa Rita Corozal 0.1 0.25 II 1995 [142][143]
Serpon Sugar Mill Stann Creek 13 32 II 2009 [118][144]
Xunantunich09.jpg Xunantunich Cayo 3 7.4 II 1995 [145][146]
St. John's Cathedral, Belize City.jpg Yarborough Cemetery Belize 0.5 1.2 II 2009 [147]

Private reserves[edit]

Private reserves are owned and operated by non-governmental conservation initiatives, and enjoy various levels of protection. Most of them are essentially multiple-use reserves, and include managed extraction of resources.[58]

In 2003, the Belize Association of Private Protected Areas (BAPPA) was formed to assist in the co-ordinatation of private conservation initiatives as a cohesive group, and to represent and assist landowners in attaining recognition from the Belizean government and integration into the national protected areas system.[148] It maintains a directory of landowners that are attempting to manage their land holdings for conservation purposes.[58]

A total of eight private reserves have so far been officially recognised as national protected areas.[148] It should be noted that whilst most of these recognised reserves have no formal or legal commitment to remain under conservation management, there are additional private landholdings which are considered to be very effective in biodiversity conservation and critical to the national protected areas system, but which are not yet recognised within the system. Formal adoption and implementation of proposed legislation to manage and regulate such areas is required to attain such recognition.

Official[edit]

As of January 2005, a total of eight private reserves were officially recognised as being part of the country's national protected areas system.[148] Two have a standing agreement with the government, while the remaining six have their own management system in place.[58] Of the following, Aguacate Lagoon is the only non-participatory reserve, its management expressing little interest in being part of the system.

They cover a combined total area of approximately 131,663 hectares (325,350 acres).[58]

List of officially recognised private reserves
Reserve District Size
(ha)
Size
(acres)
IUCN Management Est. Description
Aguacate Lagoon Cayo 115 280 IV Aguacate Park 1987 [149]
Block 127 Toledo 3,736 9,230 IV Toledo Institute for Development and Environment 2001 Forms one block of the TIDE Private Protected Lands, which total 12,000 hectares (30,000 acres).[150][151]
Community Baboon Sanctuary Belize 5,253 12,980 IV Women's Conservation Group 1985 [152][153]
Golden Stream Toledo 6,085 15,040 IV Ya’axché Conservation Trust; Fauna & Flora International 1998 Formally known as Golden Stream Corridor Preserve.[154][155]
Monkey Bay Belize 465 1,150 IV Monkey Bay Wildlife Sanctuary 1987 Formally known as Monkey Bay Wildlife Sanctuary.[156][157]
Río Bravo Orange Walk 104,897 259,210 IV Programme for Belize 1988 Formally known as Río Bravo Conservation and Management Area.[158][159][160]
Runaway Creek Belize 2,431 6,010 IV Foundation for Wildlife Conservation; Birds Without Borders 1998 [161][162]
Shipstern Corozal 8,228 20,330 IV International Tropical Conservation Foundation; Papiliorama-Nocturama Foundation 1987 Formally known as Shipstern Nature Reserve.[163][164]

Proposed[edit]

List of unofficial private reserves
Reserve District Size
(ha)
Size
(acres)
IUCN Management Est. Description
Balam Na Corozal 166 410 IV Wildtracks; Tropical Rainforest Coalition 2000 [165][166]
BFREE Toledo 572 1,410 IV Belize Foundation for Research & Environmental Education 1995 [167][168]
Boden Creek Toledo 5,447 13,460 IV Belize Lodge and Excursions 1998 Formally know as Boden Creek Ecological Preserve.[169][170]
Fireburn Corozal 745 1,840 IV Wildtracks; Fireburn Community [171][172]
Gallon Jug Orange Walk 54,154 133,820 IV Gallon Jug Estate [173][174]
Green Hills Cayo 43 110 IV Meerman, Jan 1996 Formally known as Green Hills Private Conservation Management Area.[175][176]
Hidden Valley Cayo 2,925 7,230 IV Hidden Valley Institute [177][178]

Others[edit]

Others
  • St. Georges Caye Mangrove Reserve[179]
  • Commerce Bight Forest Reserve (1986), 1,200 hectares (3,000 acres)
  • Dolphin Park National Public Reserve[180]
  • Krooman Reserve[181]
  • Mexico Rocks

See also[edit]

Footnotes[edit]

  1. ^ There is no current co-management partner, nor on-site presence, though the area has been included in past conservation planning under Programme for Belize.
  2. ^ a b c d e f g Prospective co-management organisation. No formal co-management agreements are currently being made, but these organisations have informal co-management authority.
  3. ^ No longer active.
  4. ^ Until 2010, co-management was held by the Itzamna Society.
  5. ^ Managed directly by the Forest Department as part of the Mountain Pine Ridge Forest Reserve.
  6. ^ Currently has no co-management partner and is managed directly by the Forest Department, though with no on-site presence. It is considered a paper park.

References[edit]

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  91. ^ Belize Tropical Forest Studies 2010, p. 107657.
  92. ^ Belize Tropical Forest Studies 2010, p. 107659.
  93. ^ Belize Tropical Forest Studies 2010, p. 125.
  94. ^ Belize Tropical Forest Studies 2010, p. 107660.
  95. ^ Belize Tropical Forest Studies 2010, p. 133.
  96. ^ Belize Tropical Forest Studies 2010, p. 144.
  97. ^ South Water Caye Marine Reserve. "Welcome". Government of Belize, Fisheries Department. Retrieved 5 September 2011. 
  98. ^ Belize Tropical Forest Studies 2010, p. 92.
  99. ^ Belize Tropical Forest Studies 2010, p. 94.
  100. ^ Belize Tropical Forest Studies 2010, p. 99.
  101. ^ Belize Tropical Forest Studies 2010, p. 120.
  102. ^ Belize Tropical Forest Studies 2010, p. 123.
  103. ^ Belize Tropical Forest Studies 2010, p. 128.
  104. ^ Belize Tropical Forest Studies 2010, p. 129.
  105. ^ Belize Tropical Forest Studies 2010, p. 131.
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  108. ^ Belize Tropical Forest Studies 2010, p. 143.
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  118. ^ a b Institute of Archaeology 2011, Serpon Sugar Mill
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