Wildlife law in Belize
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After declaring independence in 1981, Belize enacted the Wildlife Protection Act, which is the main source of Wildlife law in Belize. Wildlife in Belize is defined as any undomesticated mammal, reptile or bird, amphibian and any egg, nest or part or product thereof. Although Belize is only two hundred miles long and a little more than sixty miles wide, it hosts a remarkable abundance of flora and fauna. It is the home of more than 150 species of mammals, 549 birds, 150 amphibians and reptiles, nearly 600 species of freshwater and marine fish and 3,408 species of vascular plants.
The Forest Department under the Ministry of Forestry, Fisheries and Sustainable Development is the regulatory body that enforces the Wildlife Protection Act. The Wildlife Protection Act's main goal is to rescue the over one hundred globally threatened species in Belize from local extinction. The National List of Critical Native Species includes 11 Critically Endangered Species, 31 Endangered Species and 63 Vulnerable Species.
In Belize, threats to wildlife from the illegal wildlife trade have been, in general, historically marginal; Belize has low population pressure and large wilderness areas. Parrots are the major species threatened by the wildlife trade. People of all classes keep pet parrots; however, in 2016 the Government of Belize closed the amnesty period for registering parrots already in captivity and began prohibiting the ownership of newly-captured baby parrots under the National Captive Wildlife permit program. Although the government of Belize has imposed conservation measures, the increasing human population of Belize and forest clearance and fragmentation have pressured wildlife; the percentage of forest cover in Belize has declined from 74.4% in 1980 to 60.3% in 2014.
In the last five years, the Forest Department has adopted a Wildlife Conservation Program (abbreviated to WCP), which provides active management and protection of wildlife. The legal authority for the Wildlife Conservation Program comes from the Wildlife Protection Act. The Program is responsible for implementing the Convention on Biological Diversity, to which Belize is a party, and meeting Belize's obligation to maintain its threatened species, including those targeted by the wildlife trade. It is also a party to the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES), which limits trade in threatened wildlife through the CITES permission system. The Wildlife Program enforces these treaties through measures that protect wildlife from hunting, poaching and other extraction activities.
To accomplish its conservation-related goals, the Belize Forest Department has a Memorandum of Understandings with rehabilitation and conservation organisations in Belize including Belize Bird Rescue, Wildtracks Rehabilitation Program (Primate and Manatee), The Belize Zoo, The Green Iguana Project, Belize Raptor Center, Friends for Conservation and Development (FCD), The Belize Wildlife and Referral Clinic, American Crocodile Education Sanctuary, and Sea to Shore Alliance.
- Flora of Belize
- Fauna of Belize
- List of endemic species of Belize
- List of birds of Belize
- List of mammals of Belize
- Belize Bird Rescue
- "WILDLIFE PROTECTION ACT CHAPTER 220 REVISED EDITION 2000" (PDF). 2010-12-31.
- "Wildlife Conservation Program (WCP)". Belize Forest Department. Retrieved 17 February 2018.