Nearly One Million Acres of the Maya Forest Receive Help Through Projects in Belize
Few places on earth rival the Maya Forest and the ecological benefits it provides. This vast expanse of tropical forest is home to resident and migratory birds and top predators like the jaguar and harpy eagle.
To local people, the land yields food, medicinal plants, material for homes and products to sell. It also is the key to hydrological processes that both store and provide water. And for all of us, the countless trees and other vegetation sequesters carbon, helping to reduce the impacts of climate change.
To help protect this world class forest area while at the same time contributing to the health and financial security of its traditional residents, the Arbor Day Foundation in cooperation with The Nature Conservancy and local conservation organizations provided support to two landmark projects in 2010.
- An unprecedented planning process was implemented to create a 600,000-acre, bi-national Maya Mountains Protected Area. This magnificent expanse of tropical forest requires the cooperation of Belize and Guatemala. It is becoming a reality thanks to a strategic plan called the Conservation Action Plan that was developed by involving a broad range of stakeholders—communities, organizations, government agencies, conservation-filled staff, private businesses and academics. The result is an exemplary model of integrated land management that maintains ecological integrity while preserving cultural heritage and a brighter tomorrow for future generations.
- The Rio Bravo Conservation and Management Area is a 260,000-acre protected area and the largest such expanse of pristine land in private ownership. The land is owned and managed by Programme for Belize, a local nonprofit organization, and held in trust for the people of Belize under the terms of a formal Memorandum of Agreement with the Government of Belize. The problem of funding ranger staff and protective management activities may be partially solved through an arrangement with six U.S. and Canadian utility companies. The companies are willing to invest in “carbon credits” to offset tons of their emissions if the forest is kept in a condition that allows its continued sequestering of carbon. Rain Forest Rescue funds are supporting a process to validate the sequestration under international standards.