MESOAMERICAN BIOLOGICAL CORRIDORS PROJECT

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					MESOAMERICAN BIOLOGICAL CORRIDORS PROJECT




             GULF HONDURAS

          PRIORITY AREA REPORT

            PRELIMINARY DRAFT

                 BELIZE



              December 2000
  THIS REPORT WAS PREPARED BY


 WILDERNESS GROUP CONSULTING



           Evaristo Avella
            Allan Herrera
          Dr. Edward Boles

Technical Advise: Mr. Rafael Manzanero




                  2
                               TABLE OF CONTENTS


                                                                            PAGE

SECTION I - INTRODUCTION                                                    6
SECTION II - METHODOLOGICAL FRAMEWORK                                       7
SECTION III- CHARACTERIZATION OF PRIORITY AREA                              9
     3.1      Cockscomb Basin Wildlife Sanctuary                            9
      3.1.1 Delineation                                                     9
      3.1.2 Geographic Description                                          9
      3.1.3 Towns & Villages Present                                        9
      3.1.4 Bi & Tri-National Linkages                                      10
      3.1.5 Identification of Priority Areas Declared or Proposed           10
      3.1.6 Identification of Corridor Modalities                           10
      3.1.7 Summary of Issues                                               10
      3.1.8 Environmental Issues                                            10
      3.1.9 Socio-economic Issues                                           12
      3.11  Institutional                                                   15
      3.12  Stakeholder Map                                                 15
      3.13  Identified Threats for the Consolidation of the Priority Area   15
      3.14  Environmental Opportunities for the Consolidation of
            The MBC                                                         16
      3.15 Selection of the Pilot Work Sites and Key Organizations
            To promote the Participative Monitoring of the
            Consolidation of the MBC                                        17
      3.16 Identifying of Information Gaps and Needs Assessment             17
      3.16 Conclusions and Recommendations
3.2   THE MAYA MOUNTAIN FOREST RESERVE                                      18
      3.2.1 Delineation                                                     18
      3.2.2 Geographic Description                                          18
      3.2.3 Towns and Villages Present                                      18
      3.2.4 Bi & Tri-National Linkages                                      18
      3.2.5 Identification of Priority areas declared or proposed           18
      3.2.6 Identification of Corridor Modalities                           19
      3.2.7 Summary of Issues                                               19
      3.2.8 Environmental Issues                                            19
      3.2.9 Socio-economic Issues                                           19
      3.21 Institutional                                                    21
      3.22 Environmental                                                    21
      3.22 Stakeholder Map                                                  22
      3.24 Identification of Threats                                        22
      3.25 Environmental Opportunities for Consolidation of MBC             22
      3.26 Selection of Pilot or Worksites and Key Organizations            22
      3.27 Identifying information gaps                                     22


                                           3
      3.28 CONCLUSIONS AND RECOMMENDATIONS                          23
3.3   THE BLADEN NATURE RESERVE                                     24
      3.3.1 Description                                             24
      3.3.2 Delineation                                             24
      3.3.3 Geographic description                                  24
      3.3.4 Towns & Villages Present                                24
      3.3.5 Bi & Tri-national Linkages                              25
      3.3.6 Identification of Priority areas Declared or Proposed   25
      3.3.7 Identification of Corridor Modalities                   25
      3.3.8 Summary of Issues                                       25
      3.3.9 Environmental Issues                                    25
      3.31 Socioeconomic Issues                                     27
      3.32 Institutional                                            28
      3.33 Stakeholder Map                                          29
      3.34 Identification of Threats                                29
      3.35 Environmental Opportunities                              30
      3.36 Selection of Pilot or Worksites                          30
      3.37 Identifying Information Gaps and Needs Assessment        30
      3.38 CONCLUSIONS AND RECOMMENDATIONS                          31
3.4   THE COLUMBIA RIVER FOREST RESERVE                             32
      3.4.1 Description                                             32
      3.4.2 Delineation                                             32
      3.4.3 Geographic Description                                  32
      3.4.4 Towns & Villages Present                                33
      3.4.5 Bi & TriNational Linkages                               33
      3.4.6 Identification of Priority Areas Declared or Proposed   33
      3.4.7 Identification of Corridor Modalities                   34
      3.4.8 Summary of Issues                                       34
      3.4.9 Environmental Issues                                    34
      3.41 Socio-economic Issues                                    35
      3.42 Institutional                                            38
      3.43 Stakeholder Map                                          38
      3.44 Identified Threats                                       38
      3.45 Environmental Opportunities                              39
      3.46 Selection of Pilot or Worksites                          39
      3.47 Identifying Information Gaps                             39
      3.48 Conclusions and Recommendations                          39
3.5   THE DEEP RIVER FOREST RESERVE                                 41
      3.5.1 Description                                             41
      3.5.2 Delineation                                             41
      3.5.3 Geographic Description                                  41
      3.5.4 Towns & Villages                                        41
      3.5.5 Bi & Tri-National Linkages                              41
      3.5.6 Identification of Priority Areas Declared               42
      3.5.7 Identification of Corridor Modalities                   42
      3.5.8 Summary of Issues                                       42



                                          4
            3.5.8.1        Environmental Issues                     42
            3.5.8.2        Socio-economic Issues                    43
            3.5.8.3        Institutional                            44
      3.52 Stakeholder Map                                          44
      3.53 Identified Threats                                       44
      3.54 Environmental Opportunities                              45
      3.55 Selection of Pilot or Workshops                          45
      3.56 Identifying Information Gaps & Needs Assessment          45
      3.57 Conclusions and Recommendations                          45
3.6   THE PAYNES CREEK NATIONAL PARK                                46
      3.6.1 Description                                             46
      3.6.2 Delineation                                             46
      3.6.3 Geographic Description                                  46
      3.6.4 Towns & Villages Present                                46
      3.6.5 Bi & Tri-National Linkages                              47
      3.6.6 Identification of Priority Areas declared or Proposed   47
      3.6.7 Identification of Corridor Modalities                   47
      3.6.8 Summary of Issues                                       47
      3.6.9 Environmental Issues                                    47
      3.62 Institutional                                            49
      3.63 Stakeholder Map                                          50
      3.64 Identified Threats                                       50
      3.65 Environmental Opportunities                              50
      3.66 Selection of Pilot or Work Sites                         51
      3.67 Identifying Information Gaps                             51
      3.68 Conclusions and Recommendations                          51
3.7   THE PORT HONDURAS MARINE RESERVE                              52
      3.7.1 Description                                             52
      3.7.2 Delineation                                             52
      3.7.3 Geographic Description                                  52
      3.7.4 Towns and Villages Present                              53
      3.7.5 Bi & Tri-National Linkages                              53
      3.7.6 Identification of Priority Areas                        53
      3.7.7 Identification of Corridor Modalities                   53
      3.7.8 Summary of Issues                                       53
            3.7.9 Environmental Issues                              53
            3.71 Socio-economic Issues                              55
            3.72 Institutional                                      56
            3.73 Stakeholder Map                                    57
            3.74 Identified Threats                                 57
            3.75 Environmental Opportunities                        57
            3.76 Selection of Pilot or Work Sites                   58
            3.7.1 Identifying Information Gaps                      58
            3.78 Conclusions and Recommendations                    58




                                           5
LIST OF TABLES                                                  PAGE

Table 3.1 Provisions of the Basic Services & Infrastructure
             To the Buffer Zone Communities of the CBWS         14

Table 3.3 Provisions of the Basic Services & Infrastructure
             To the Buffer Zone Communities of Bladen
             Nature Reserve                                     28

Table 3.4.4 Population figures and Trends for Buffer Zone
            Communities.                                        33

Table 3.41   Basic Services & Infrastructure available to the
             Buffer Zone Communities.                           37


LIST OF ANNEXES                                                 PAGE

ANNEX A                                                         59
ANNEX B                                                         62
ANNEX C                                                         63
ANNEX D                                                         65
ANNEX E                                                         67




                                     6
                                       SECTION ONE


                                      INTRODUCTION


In the context of natural resource management and conservation within the Central American
region, Belize occupies an important position of having the highest percentage of land under
some form of protection. With over 40% of the total land area under protection and a national
policy to maintain and support its biological diversity and integrity, it is easy to understand why
Belize is recognized as playing an important role in regional and international efforts in
sustainable development. The result of this conservation effort is that critical vegetation types
and endangered animal communities are well represented in these protected areas. The reality
however, may be different from the perception. It is well established through research that
ecosystems do not function in isolation, and the country’s sensitive ecosystems do not lend to
complacency in its management. Furthermore, uncontrolled development is likely to produce
fragmentations and ecological “islands” within modified habitats, thereby compromising the
ability of the protected areas to safeguard this biodiversity.

To monitor this situation it is always a useful exercise to periodically take stock of conditions on
the ground, especially as they relate to the maintenance of the priority areas and their corridor
linkages. Updating the information database on the priority areas is especially relevant in the
context of the regional and sub regional ecological framework and will assist in the preparation
of the strategic plan for the Mesoamerican Biological Corridors Project (MBCP).

As the Mesoamerican Biological Corridors Project takes root and moves from the realm of being
a mere concept to a workable reality, it is necessary to take stock of the critical issues which
impact the future viability of these areas. These include the environmental, institutional and
socioeconomic issues. A well meaning corridor linkage program must take into account the
very important role that private and public lands play in maintaining vital corridor linkages, apart
from their other roles of protecting watersheds and providing habitats for a host of important
flora and fauna. These protected areas and multiple use landscapes are challenging us with the
idea that critical linkage areas can provide a range of economic benefits while protecting
ecological processes.




                                                 7
                                       SECTION TWO


                            METHODOLOGICAL FRAMEWORK

The Project Document “Establishment of a Program for the Consolidation of the Mesoamerican
Biological Corridor” under the section Project Strategy and Implementation Arrangements calls
for the subcontracting of certain project activities to nationals within the project areas. In this
phase of the project the consultants are being called upon to implement a series of activities to
be conducted under the auspices of the National Liaison Officer (NLO) MBCP. The period of
the consultancy runs from Oct 1- Dec 15, 2000. The terms of reference include:

       (i)     Design, organize and implement of a series of workshops with stakeholders and
               collaborators working within the priority area (identified at the regional level).
               Three workshops will be held at the local level corresponding to the three priority
               regions within the Selva Maya and Gulf of Honduras Priority Areas (essentially
               addressing the northern, central and southern regions of Belize). For these local
               workshops, the participants list will be compiled from those who attended
               previous MBC workshops as stakeholders and will include NGOs, CBOs,
               Government agencies and private landowners. Any previous list will not preclude
               the addition of new individuals or groups who may have a vested interest in the
               regional corridor design and implementation. A single National workshop will
               bring together the main players from the three regions plus NGOs, government
               agencies and the technical advisory committee (TAC).

       (ii)    The design of the workshop will fall into the following sessions:

               (a) Introduction to the Mesoamerican Biological Corridors Project- it’s concept,
                   justification, organization and objectives

               (b) Presentation of the proposed Belize Country Priority Areas and justification
                   within the regional strategy

               (c) Presentation on opportunities and commitments of the MBCP to local
                   stakeholders

               (d) Identification of the regional lands already included in the priority area and the
                   local justification for inclusion

               (e) Discussion on existing and proposed areas within the national interregional
                   context

               (f) Question and answer session

At each workshop an aide memoir was prepared for submission as Annex G of the final report
that included the main conclusions drawn and list of recommendations made. Annex C is a list
of participants for the validation workshops.




                                                 8
The report on the priority areas will glean the latest published information on the environmental,
socioeconomic and institutional factors impacting or have the potential to impact these sites.
Relevant documents will include but will not be limited to; the National Population and Housing
Census 2000 report, the Abstract of Statistics (1999), Medium Term Economic Strategy Paper
2000-2002, Regional Development Plan for Southern Belize (April 2000), management plans for
protected areas and the latest GIS data. Community consultations and workshops will provide
additional information, as well as one on one consultations with stakeholders, government
agencies and NGOs.




                                                9
                                      SECTION THREE

                CHARACTERIZATION OF THE PRIORITY AREA

3.1     The Cockscomb Basin Wildlife Sanctuary


The Cockscomb Basin Wildlife Sanctuary (CBWS) was established primarily as a place of
refuge for the Jaguar population of Southern Belize. It is also an important region for the
conservation of watersheds and biodiversity, which is an intrinsic attribute of its varied terrain,
including river flood plains, slopes, and ridge crests. The sanctuary also serves the
communities in the neighboring communities as a place for recreational and environmental
education opportunities. Since 1986 its management has been entrusted to the Belize Audubon
Society on agreement with the Belize Forest Department, given the Department’s financial and
human resource constraints. Since that time, the area of the sanctuary has been expanded
upon twice with the most recent 1997 expansion dramatically increasing the area brought under
protection.

3.1.1   Delineation of the Cockscomb Basin Wildlife Sanctuary:

This protected area falls within the Port Honduras Priority Area, which is one of two priority
areas so far identified for Belize. The CBWS is bounded on the north by Sittee River Forest
Reserve, on the northeast, east and southeast by public and private properties and
communities, on the south by the Maya Mountain Forest Reserve and Bladen Nature Reserve
and on the west by the Maya Mountain Divide where the Chiquibul National Park is found. The
justification for its classification within the Gulf of Honduras Priority Area is partly due to the
CBWS being a part of the larger marine transect, and due to its distinct watershed boundary
(being separated by the Maya Mountain Divide) draining towards the East South East and
emptying into the general area of the Port Honduras.

3.1.2   Geographic Description:

The Cockscomb Basin Wildlife Sanctuary is located in the Stann Creek District, an area of
South Central Belize, and is centered on latitude 88o40’ W Latitude and 16o45’ N Longitude.
The area was declared a wildlife sanctuary in 1986 and, subsequently, was expanded in 1990
and again 1997 to reach its present total area of 49, 480 ha. The basin is a valley surrounded
on four sides by high ridges and low mountains. The eastern side of the basin is relatively flat,
whereas the western section is more rugged.        To the north the basin is bounded by the
Cockscomb range, to the east by the Cabbage Haul Gap, on the south by several ridges and on
the west by the main divide of the Maya Mountains. The elevation within the Cockscomb area
varies from 92-610 m asl but can rise considerably higher, as in the case of Victoria Peak, which
reaches a height of 1,098 m. Two major river systems of the Stann Creek District have their
headwaters in this region. They are the South Stann Creek, which drains the eastern half of the
CBWS and the Swasey Branch of the Monkey River, which drains the western portion.

3.1.3   Towns and villages present:

There are three large communities in the area whose activities are most likely to impact on the
CBWS. These villages are Maya Center, Maya Mopan and Red Bank. Maya Center has


                                                10
closest proximity to the sanctuary being about 6 miles due east from the entrance. These
communities are predominantly populated by indigenous Mayan agriculturalist who emigrated
from the Toledo District into the Stann Creek District after 1975. Besides these three
communities, there are also the four smaller communities of Santa Rosa, San Roman, San
Pablo and Georgetown. Dangriga Town the main urban area in this region is located about 30
km to the northeast of the sanctuary.

3.1.4   Bi-and tri-national linkages:

Although not situated directly on the international frontier, the location and biodiversity that is
being protected at the CBWS is important to maintaining any viable corridor linkages between
the Coastal Plains to the east and the Maya Mountains to the west. The area is located at the
crossroad that feeds from the northern region into the Sarstoon Temash area to the south and
the Gulf of Honduras to the southeast. As a wildlife sanctuary it is under a strict designation that
will only allow education, research, tourism and recreation. As a part of a larger biogeographical
region, the area is similar to the flora and faunal assemblages of the Peten.

3.1.5   Identification of priority areas declared or proposed:

The CBWS is a protected area within the Selva Maya Priority Area, one of only 2 priority areas
in Belize, the other being the Gulf of Honduras. There are 2 proposed corridor routes leading
from Selva Maya North into Selva Maya Central and South. One proposed route would pass
through mile 31 on the Western Highway and would put the CBWS at the center of the linkage
between the northern and southern regions of the Selva Maya.

3.1.6   Identification of corridor modalities:

The CBWS is an area of mostly broadleaf forest, which can be further broken down into riparian,
and secondary broadleaf forest and even these can be further broken down into broadleaf
variants depending on localized conditions. The adjacent protected areas (Sittee River,
Chiquibul, Bladen and Maya Mountain) are also predominantly broadleaf vegetation. The
outlying buffer zone areas of the coastal plains include citrus and banana plantations, as well as
pine and mixed pine/ hardwood stands.


3.1.7   Summary of issues


3.1.8   Environmental Issues:

In the Holdrige Life Zones, the CBWS occurs within the Subtropical Wet with some Subtropical
Lower Montane Wet to the west and Tropical Moist to the east. The area falls into the median
range rainfall pattern for Belize of about 2500-3000 mm. per annum. The entire basin is
underlain with shallow siliceous soils of low fertility formed over granite rock and is surrounded
by the Santa Rosa Group metamorphic rock. The area displays clear relationship patterns
between soil types, elevation and plant cover.

   Flora. In 1984 Hartshorne et al divided the CBWS into 2 major vegetation types. They are;

        (a) Transitional Broadleaf Forest, poor in lime loving species, consisting mainly of semi-
            evergreen forest, found in higher elevations.


                                                 11
   (b) Broadleaf Forest with few lime-loving species consisting mainly of semi-evergreen
       seasonal forest, which is found over the larger part of the basin.

Kamstra (1987) further distinguished seven sub-vegetation types for the basin, the most
productive in terms of overall diversity being the flood land shrubbery. The forest displays
dense medium height growth, probably as a result of the rugged terrain and the poor soil
conditions. The numerous timber concessionaires that have operated in the reserve in the
past have removed most commercially important timber from the area. The characteristic
forest types produce trees such as Banak, Waika Swivelstick, Quamwood, Yemeri, Negrito,
Santa Maria and Rosewood. Elfin forest grows on some of the steeper slopes of the Maya
Mountains at higher altitudes. Although most of the area is covered by mature forest, there
is a small area of secondary regeneration (about 44.5 ha.), which is the remains of
abandoned milpa made by a band of Maya settlers who were removed before the sanctuary
was declared.

Fauna. Studies on the faunal assemblage of the CBWS go back to the original jaguar
studies that provided the impetus for the area to be declared a wildlife sanctuary. It is
assumed that the representation of fauna in this area should be among the most diverse in
Belize and the current list of 322 species can be expected to expand considerably with
further studies. Because of the climatic and topographic factors that predominate in this
area, it is quite likely that new species endemic to Belize or rare in the Central American
region will be discovered. The sanctuary is known to contain at least 24 species of animals
listed as rare or endangered in Belize. Besides the historical study on the jaguar
populations, this site is also identified with the first ever relocation of Black Howler Monkeys
to replace a previous extinct population.

   Invertebrates. Data on invertebrate diversity and populations are incomplete, but
   sampling efforts have shown species that are indicative of undisturbed wet forest.
   Preliminary work on the sanctuary’s lepidoptera has identified 44 species in a seven-day
   period and 27 species of odonata in a three-day period. Low species count was
   attributed to the timing of the study in January, one of the most inactive periods.
   However, identified specimens established new distribution records, one species
   (Prepona dexamensis) only reported as far north as Costa Riva and another
   (Xylophanes undata) occurring only as far north as Panama.

   Fish. There is little available information on fish populations within the CBWS, although
   it is assumed that they will be representative for the region as a whole. With the
   protected area designation, active management presence and relative isolation from
   large population centers, it is expected that populations should be intact. However,
   commercialized agricultural activity downstream is an area for concern.

   Herpetofauna. Surveys on herpetofauna have recorded mass breading sites in several
   locations but with especially heavy populations along the more wet and rugged western
   region. Expert opinion is that up to 70% (80 species) of the country’s identified
   herpetofauna species may exist in the park with 53 species now positively identified.
   Two frog species identified, Smilisca cyanostica and Gastophyrne elegans, are
   considered rare for Belize.

   Avifauna. Up to 290 species of birds have been identified in the CBWS, but this number
   is more indicative of surveying efforts than of site quality. Of all the species
   documented, 18% are considered to be seasonal Nearctic and Neotropical migrants.


                                            12
        The reported presence of Scarlet Macaws within the Sanctuary is of importance to the
        conservation efforts in Belize and the region. This bird is endangered throughout its
        range and in Belize is hanging on tenuously in certain localized areas, some of which
        are earmarked for development. Other birds of national and international interest
        identified within the sanctuary are the Agami Heron, Solitary Eagle, Black and White
        Hawk Eagle, Currasow and Peregrine Falcon.

        Mammals. Studies going back to 1984 showed that the Cockscomb Basin Area had a
        healthy population of 25-40 jaguars as well as a good representation of the other cats,
        such as Ocelot, Margay, Jaguarondi and Puma all included in the CITES red list.
        Another important species common in the sanctuary was the endangered Baird’s Tapir.
        So far 55 species of mammals have been identified, but again this is more an indication
        of limited surveying efforts than an indication of site quality. One of the most significant
        developments in wildlife conservation in Belize took place when Black Howler Monkeys
        were reintroduced into the park. Originally endemic to the area, they were absent for
        over 30 years, probably due to a combination of factors, but most likely attributable to
        Hurricane Hattie and the resultant ravages of disease trailing in the wake of the storm. A
        total of 62 howlers were reintroduced into the basin after being translocated from the
        Community Baboon Sanctuary, an area with a successful Howler conservation program.
        Post Howler introduction surveys showed a 90% survival rate and multiplications in the
        number of troop sightings.

3.1.9   Socioeconomic Issues:

The Stann Creek District is an important agricultural area of Belize producing most of the
nations citrus and bananas, regarded as mainstays of the Belize Export economy. Besides
bananas and citrus, mariculture, logging, ecotourism and mango production are also important.
The potential land use map of 1959 (Wright et al) recommended that the mountainous areas in
the western regions of the district should be dedicated to forestry and orchard crops while the
flatter coastal plain areas could be profitably employed in the production of bananas, livestock,
rice and other agricultural crops. The potential land use map of 1985 identified the area of the
Cockscomb Basin as being best suited for protection forest and the production of orchard crops.
There are better agricultural soils in scattered patches within the flood plain area of the
sanctuary but these also have a very high biological diversity and therefore great conservation
value. The Cockscomb Basin has had a long history of human influence, however, for most of
the modern period, this human penetration has been limited to loggers and concessionaires
extracting products from the area but coming from settlements set further afield. This tranquil
picture has changed recently with the arrival of new industries and the establishments of
settlements on the periphery of the area. These new settlers are by and large poor to indigent
with low levels of education. The 1996 National Literacy Survey showed that the Stann Creek
District had the third highest literacy rate (70.4%) of the districts but this figure does not reflect
the very low literacy levels (48%) of the indigenous and immigrant rural populations whose
literacy bears a close correlation to their country of origin but on the average is about 52.3% for
males. The areas around the Cockscomb Basin fall into several distinct categories of
development, which presents different challenges for the management of the sanctuary.

   Large Corporate Holdings. There are several large corporate holdings engaged in the
   production of citrus, bananas and aquaculture products for the export market that can have
   impacts on the biological diversity and integrity of the Cockscomb Basin. The problem has
   less to do with the expansion of the agricultural frontier and more with the practices taking
   place on these sites. Creating large expanse of monoculture tree crops interferes with the


                                                 13
biological diversity of the area and the ability of some areas to act as sites for corridor
linkages. Indiscriminate use of fertilizers and pesticides has the potential for runoffs into
streams and upsetting the balance aquatic systems. Similarly, the aquatic industries have
brought foreign commercial species into the country that have escaped and are known to be
dislocating native species over a wide area.

The Indigenous Communities. The indigenous communities to the east of the CBWS have
been a recent phenomenon. Starting in 1975 there had been an out migration of Mopan
Maya Indians from remote Toledo Villages into South Stann Creek. The migrants were
looking for new farmlands and market access for their products. In short order they had
established the communities of Maya Mopan (est. 1975), Maya Center (est. 1976) and Red
Bank (est. 1982). All communities have seen rapid population increase and some
diversification of their economic base since their establishment. They now have access to
potable water and electricity as well as community phone service and rudimentary health
care. Other important communities in the area are Santa Rosa, San Roman, Georgetown
and San Pablo. With the exception of Georgetown, which is a Garifuna Community,
indigenous Mayas populate all villages.

   Maya Mopan. This is the largest of the communities that border the Cockscomb Basin.
   The village is located at the Southwestern end of the sanctuary about 2 miles from the
   Southern Highway. The combined population for Maya Mopan and Red Bank in the
   1991 census was 794. Together these communities now have a combined population of
   1,472 persons, which represent an 85.4 % increase. The village is about 94% Mopan
   Maya and 6% Ketchi Maya. The population dynamics are heavily skewed towards the
   younger age cohorts with 64% of the population falling into the 0-17 years age grouping.

   Most people are involved in subsistence farming (25%) but recently a small number of
   farmers have gone into citrus and cacao cultivation. About 15% of the population still
   relies on subsistence hunting and fishing for their livelihoods.

   Red Bank –The village of Red Bank is located about 3.5 miles southwest of Maya
   Mopan. Like Maya Mopan, it has a rapidly expanding population skewed in favor of the
   younger age cohorts. Studies show that 61% of the population falls into the 0-17 year
   age brackets. Although populated mainly by Mopan Maya (78%) there has been a
   recent influx of Ketchi Maya. These newcomers were originally from Guatemala and
   had settled illegally in the Chiquibul Forest Reserve. The Government of Belize later
   relocated them into Red Bank. Although this arrangement initially produced friction
   between the two groups, there are indications that things are beginning to settle down.

   This village has recently come to national attention because of an ongoing effort to
   conserve the Scarlet Macaw Parrots that come into the area between October and
   March. Because of this interest there is a budding ecotourism industry developing in the
   village. While this new enterprise may take off, the majority of people still rely on
   subsistence farming for their livelihood (27%) although some farmers are getting into
   citrus and banana cultivation for export. About 15% of the households rely on
   subsistence hunting and gathering but recently there has been a dramatic shift to wage
   labor mainly in the construction, agricultural and mariculture industries.

   Maya Center – Of all the communities the history and economy of this village has been
   the most closely intertwined with the Cockscomb Basin Wildlife Sanctuary. Located a
   mere 6 miles from the entrance to the sanctuary this village straddles the road that leads


                                           14
       into the sanctuary at its junction with the Southern Highway. The population of the
       community is now 765 persons a 107.3% increase over the last census in 1991. Shortly
       after the village was formed a group of settlers penetrated into the Cockscomb Basin
       and established a settlement in a place called Quam Bank. They were removed before
       the area was declared a wildlife sanctuary and resettled into Maya Center, but not before
       they had chopped down 45 ha. Of the basin. Being walled of by the sanctuary on one
       hand and large landowners on the other, there is constant agitation within the village for
       land for community expansion.

       Subsistence farming is important to this community, occupying about 27% of the
       households but as in the other communities there has been a recent trend towards wage
       labor in the local agribusinesses, shrimp and construction industries. In addition some
       individuals are also employed at the sanctuary as caretakers. Hunting and fishing here
       is more important than in the other two communities with about 20 and 30% of families
       involved respectively. As a measure to improve the economic prospects of the women
       folk in the community the Belize Audubon Society has encouraged the formation of a
       women’s group. Besides providing training in capacity building and promoting a
       handicraft industry it has also allowed the women to sell entrance tickets to the
       sanctuary on a 10% commission basis. Besides the economic benefits that accrue from
       their activities the women have also become a powerful voice in community governance.

    The following table summarizes the basic services available to the communities.

Name      of Village       Commu      Primary    Existing   Propose    Electricit   Potable    Commu
Community    Councils      nity       School     Health     d Health   y (from      Water      nity
                           Center                Center /   Center/    national     (from      Telepho
                                                 Health     Health     grid)        rudiment   ne
                                                 Post       Post                    ary
                                                                                    water
                                                                                    system)

Maya Center     *          *          *                                *            *          *
Pop. 765
Santa Rosa      *          *                     *                     Being        Hand       *
Pop. 360                                                               installed    pump
San Roman       *                                *                     *            Hand       *
Pop. 280                                                                            pumps
Georgetown      *          *          *                                Being        Hand       *
Pop. 556                                                               installed    pumps
Maya Mopan      *                     *                                *            *          *
Pop.
Red Bank        *                     *                                *            *          *
Pop. 281
San Pablo       *                     *
Pop. 280



    Table 3.1: Provision of the basic services and infrastructure to the buffer zone communities
    of the CBWS.



                                                15
3.11   Institutional:

There are various government and private agencies involved in development work within the
area. The most prominent are:

       -   Belize Audubon Society (BAS) - conservation NGO with responsibility for the
           Cockscomb Basin Wildlife Sanctuary is spearheading a co-management project with
           the communities. The project aims to promote sustainable economic development
           activities within the communities, provide leadership training and environmental
           awareness among others.

       -   Programme for Belize (PfB) – Is spearheading the WINGS project in Red Bank,
           which has as its primary focus, the preservation of the area’s bird life, but with
           special focus on the endangered Scarlet Macaw Parrot. The project stresses
           environmental education, advocacy and ecotourism.

       -   Environmental & Social Technical Assistance Project (ESTAP) – Aims to promote
           socio-economic development in the southern region in tandem with the civil
           development accompanying the Southern Highway Rehabilitation Project. The
           project aims to enhance the quality of life of all the people in the region through the
           efficient and sustainable allocation of resources, the promotion of social and
           economic growth, and the meaningful participation and contribution of the region’s
           people in the overall development of Belize.

       -   Social Investment Fund (SIF) and Basic Needs Trust Fund – Undertakes poverty
           alleviation work through promoting community infrastructure development and
           training.

       -   Community Groups (CBOs) - In addition all communities have village councils,
           women’s groups, church groups and youth groups that are at various times dormant
           and active.

       -   Government Agencies – the government is engaged through its Departments of
           Forestry, Agriculture, Police, Lands, Public Works and Social Services.


3.12   Stakeholder Map




3.13   IDENTIFIED THREATS FOR THE CONSOLIDATION OF THE PRIORITY AREA

Starting from 1986 the CBWS has had a management structure on the ground, which has
increased in effectiveness over the years as resources and training have become more
available. With a permanent protection presence on the ground backed up by an administrative
structure with access to resources it is clear that this protected area has a better prospect than
most in terms of preserving its cultural and ecological integrity. The clear and present danger is
in the activities that are taking place in the buffer zone areas over which the Belize Audubon
Society has less leverage to influence outcomes.



                                               16
It is clear that many of the residents in the bordering communities rely on hunting and fishing to
support their livelihoods. If this activity is not regulated there will be depletion in the population
of certain wildlife species, which can have repercussions for other species, which rely on them
in the food chain. For example uncontrolled harvesting of deer, paca, peccary and armadillo
can deprive the big cats of their preferred prey. This may result in these animals wondering into
communities and preying on livestock, resulting in conflicts between resource managers and
local people. As well, heavy hunting can block corridor linkages for certain species, creating
conservation islands within the protected area and blocking the opportunities for genetic
exchange.

Another concern lies in the monocultures characteristic of the banana and citrus industries of
the area. Apart from potential dangers to watersheds due to erosion and chemical runoffs these
areas do not provide the necessary plant diversity and cover for many species and can
therefore be regarded in their present context as ecological barriers.

With the rapidly rising population in the buffer areas it can reasonably be expected that there will
be a commensurate high demand for land. In an area hemmed in with little land for expansion it
is quite likely that all available land in the buffer zone will be exploited for farms and homesteads
with negative repercussions for the corridor linkages in the area. More ominously a large
landless and voting population may bring pressure to bear on the political establishment for
more land to be de-reserved.


3.14   ENVIRONMENTAL OPPORTUNITIES FOR THE CONSOLIDATION OF THE MBC

Having taken a handle on the area at a critical time when settlers were moving in, and putting
effective management presence on the ground, the BAS has given this protected area good
prospects for contributing to the biological corridors complex now being configured in critical
areas of the country. Lepidoptera and Odonata studies carried out at the site identified many
species that are indicative of undisturbed wet forest. With the areas further upstream also under
protection, there is good assurance that the water sheds and at least the interior corridor routes
will remain intact for the foreseeable future.

Although there is considerable population pressure around the perimeter of the sanctuary there
is still a chance that a good portion of the buffer zone can be saved from deforestation. The
environmental education and advocacy work being undertaken by the BAS in the buffer zones is
a good start. A close working relationship with the communities will allow the BAS to promote
alternative development routes that can actually promote reforestation rather than destroying it.
Emphasis on crafts, agro forestry and ecotourism will go a long way towards promoting a solid
environmental ethic.

A most positive development in recent times has been the promotion of the co-management
concept with local communities. This approach for which implementation funding has already
been obtained will bring the communities together as decision makers and partners in the
running of the protected area. Apart from leverage in the decision making process, community
empowerment will extend into the area of participatory education and environmentally friendly
economic development projects.

Neighboring landholders in the area can also buy into this ethic and incorporate progressive
practices such as leaving corridor strips along streams, relying more on biological controls and
interspersing monoculture planting systems with other useful species. This will translate into


                                                 17
less disease problems for the landowner and therefore higher returns on investment while
improving the quality of the corridor for the wild populations.

3.15   SELECTION OF PILOT OR WORK SITES AND KEY ORGANIZATIONS TO
       PROMOTE THE PARTICIPATIVE MONITORING OF THE CONSOLIDATION OF THE
       MBC

3.16   IDENTIFYING INFORMATION GAPS AND THE                   NEEDS     ASSESSMENT        TO
       ESTABLISH LOCAL THEMATIC STRATEGIES

Although moves have been made in characterizing this protected area, there is still much work
that needs to be done. Important gaps are:
     a) Not enough data on plant identification and trees in particular,
     b) Faunal is incomplete,
     c) No surveys on aquatic habitats and sampling of water quality.


3.17   CONCLUSIONS AND RECOMMENDATIONS

As noted earlier the CBWS has a management presence, an outreach and educational capacity
and a co-management arrangement with the communities. Apart from the needs assessment
previously reported there are no other immediate measures to promote.




                                             18
3.2     The Maya Mountain Forest Reserve


3.2.1   Delineation of the Maya Mountain Forest Reserve:

The Maya Mountain Forest Reserve is located in the Toledo District and forms part of the
northern boundary between the Toledo and Stann Creek Districts. It lies roughly between 16 42’
and 16 32’ N Latitude and 88 50’ and 88 35’ E Longitude. This reserve falls into the Port
Honduras Priority Area, one of only 2 priority Areas so far identified for Belize.

3.2.2   Geographic Description:

The eastern boundary of the reserve forms part of the foothills of the Maya Mountain Massif and
faces outwards to established settlements and the Southern Highway. To the north and west
the reserve is bordered by the Cockscomb Basin Wildlife Sanctuary managed by the Belize
Audubon Society, to the south by the property of BFREE and the Deep River Forest Reserve.
There is very little information on the physical features and climate within the reserve but they
can be assumed to be very similar to the neighboring Bladen Nature Reserve which has been
more closely studied and which receives about 2,800 mm of rainfall per year and lies between
50-1000m above sea level. This reserve also plays an additional important role in maintaining a
large portion of the Monkey river watershed one of the most important river systems of southern
Belize.

3.2.3   Towns and villages present:

There are several communities within the buffer area of the Maya Mountain Forest Reserve that
are important to the management of the protected area. The community of Trio (pop. 301) is
located near the southeastern boundary of the reserve and is regarded as the community most
likely to interact with the reserve. Other important communities within the buffer zone are
Bladen (pop. 180), Nuevo San Juan (pop. 200) and Bella Vista (pop. figures not available).
Central American immigrant laborers drawn to the area by the prospect of employment on the
banana farms, which are also headquartered in this area, predominantly populate all these
communities with the exception of Bladen. All communities are characterized by a rapidly
expanding population and a lack of the basic services, some of which however are now being
met. Punta Gorda Town and Dangriga Town are the only urban centers within the area, with
populations of 8,814 and 4,329 respectively (Census 2000 Report).

3.2.4   Bi-and tri-national linkages:

The Maya Mountain does not have direct bi or tri-national park linkages within the overall
corridor network. It is nonetheless an important area providing an expanded link between the
Selva Maya area and the Gulf of Honduras, the only two identified priority areas in Belize. It
assumes an additional importance in the protection of the watershed whose integrity is critical to
the long-term biodiversity of the Gulf of Honduras area.

3.2.5   Identification of priority areas declared or proposed:

The Maya Mountain Forest Reserve is located within the Selva Maya Priority Area, one of only 2
priority areas so far identified for Belize, the other being the Gulf of Honduras, which is located
in southern Belize and includes the marine reserves of that area as well as 2 of the coastal



                                                 19
protected areas. Selva Maya connects into Mexican and Guatemalan protected areas and
therefore links into initiatives ongoing in those countries for an integrated corridors network.

3.2.6   Identification of corridor modalities:

Entire area is composed of primary broadleaf forest over rugged terrain. More in depth
characterization is not possible due to limited study of the area. In addition the neighboring
protected areas have mostly broadleaf habitats however in the agricultural areas to the east
there are large banana farms and subsistence agricultural plots plus extensive acres of pine
scrub savannah.


3.2.7   Summary of issues

3.2.8   Environmental Issues:

There is little information available on the environmental characterization of this site; any
assumptions are conjectural generalizations from the surrounding protected areas.

3.2.9   Socioeconomic Issues:

Regional Context - The Toledo District is the most southerly and the least developed area of
Belize. It has the third largest surface area (4,413 sq. km.) of the 6 districts of Belize and the
lowest population accounting for only 9% of the total population of the country. These figures
should not disguise the fact that this district is also experiencing rapid population increase both
as a result of high immigration rates from Guatemala (mostly ethnic Maya) and Honduras
(Mestizos). While the national population between 1990 and 2000 grew by 26.8 % (from
189,392 to 240,204) the population of the Toledo District grew by 33.6% (from 17,439 to
23,297), a figure significantly higher than the national average. The participation of women in
the labor force stood at 26% in the district (ESTAP 2000). The nearest urban center is Punta
Gorda Town and accounts for the only urban center in the district. Other indices show that the
district has the country’s highest infant mortality rate (51 per 1000 compared to 23 per1000 in
Belize District, the country’s lowest) the lowest rate of access to potable water supply (41%
against 81% for the Orange Walk district, the nations highest) and the lowest literacy levels
(58.9% compared to Belize District’s 91.9%, the nations highest).

   The Buffer zone Communities. There are 4 principal buffer zone communities in the
   vicinity of the Maya Mountain Forest Reserve. These communities are to a great extent
   dependent on the local banana industry for their economic survival and their future growth is
   very much dependent on the survival and growth of this industry. The communities are:

        Trio - This community of 301 individuals is populated almost entirely by Central
        American Mestizo immigrants. The community lacks a formalized village leadership
        structure, which has important implications for the reserve’s management and their
        communication with the community. Additionally the community lacks a primary school,
        health facility, electricity, potable water and latrines. The sole access road into the
        community is a poorly maintained dirt road leading from the Western Highway.
        Most employment is provided by the local banana farms and in most recent times by
        work on the Southern Highway Project.




                                                 20
   Bella Vista – This is another immigrant community, which places a heavy reliance on the
   banana industry. The nearby shrimp farms are also important as a local employer for
   this community. The community does not have an established village council, medical
   facilities or electrical services (work in progress), however it has a primary school,
   potable water system and telecommunication facilities and pit latrines.

   As in most of these communities there is unsecured land tenure for the residents some
   of whom reside on national lands and others on the property of absentee landowners. In
   this situation of unsecured land tenure many family simply settle vacant land, which they
   perceive to be unclaimed. Many times this squatting takes place within protected areas
   that do not have clearly demarcated boundary lines. In addition the community is
   located near the Swasey River on land that is poorly drained and subject to frequent
   flooding.

   Nuevo San Juan – This community is located on land previously de-reserved from the
   Mango Creek Forest Reserve and was founded by people who moved from the banana
   farm at Cowpen. The present population of 200 is made up mostly of Central American
   Mestizo immigrants. There is an established community government structure as well
   as a well-stocked health center and primary school. In addition the community has
   piped water system and connection to the national electricity grid. It should be noted
   that most of these amenities came as a result of the protest of the workers against their
   poor living and working conditions; a cause which was later taken up by other
   community advocacy groups. Almost all employed members of this community work in
   the banana industry.

   Bladen – The larger part of this community is located on a parcel of Swasey Bladen
   Forest Reserve, while the remainder of the community lives on leased land or the land of
   absentee landowners. Unlike the previously described communities, the people of
   Bladen (pop. 180) rely on subsistence farming for their livelihoods. There is no village
   government, school, medical facility, potable water, electricity, or sanitary health facility.

   An important factor in the development of these communities will be their ability to
   engage their women folk in the development process. At present the participation of
   women in development is minimal. Apart from working in the packing sheds of the
   banana industry they are essentially excluded from the workforce. A combination of
   factors contribute to this including low levels of education (23% of women in rural areas
   have no formal education) high unemployment (76% of the available workforce) and lack
   of access to land (only 8% of all lease holders are women).


Local Industries- The economy of the Toledo District is fundamentally agrarian, however
recent trends have shown some diversification into mariculture and ecotourism. The
economy of the buffer zone communities is dependent on the local banana industry and
mariculture. Recently employment opportunities have been supplemented by the Southern
Highway rehabilitation Project.

   Bananas – The banana industry centered in the Bladen Area employ over 3000 persons
   at its various production levels. The entire area has a heavy reliance on this industry
   and indeed future economic forecast for this area is essentially a forecast of how well
   this industry fares in the medium and long term. The industry has a heavy reliance on
   foreign migrant labor (70%) mostly drawn from Honduras and to a lesser extent from


                                            21
       Guatemala. Many of these laborers have become, or are in the process of becoming
       permanent residents. Recent surveys show that 61% of farm field laborers are males
       but with a preponderance of women in the packing plants.

3.21   Institutional:

There are various government and private agencies involved in development work within the
area. The most prominent are:

-   Environmental & Social Technical Assistance Project (ESTAP) – Aims to promote socio-
    economic development in the southern region in tandem with the civil development
    accompanying the Southern Highway Rehabilitation Project. The project aims to enhance
    the quality of life of all the people in the region through the efficient and sustainable
    allocation of resources, the promotion of social and economic growth, and the meaningful
    participation and contribution of the region’s people in the overall development of Belize.

-   Social Investment Fund (SIF) – Undertakes poverty alleviation work through promoting
    community infrastructure development and training.

-   Community Groups (CBOs) - In addition all communities have village councils, women’s
    groups, church groups and youth groups that are at various times dormant and active.

-   United Banners Bananas Worker’s Union and SPEAR – Are committed to promoting
    worker’s rights and promoting dialogue between management and labor.

-   Government Agencies – the government is engaged through its departments of forestry,
    agriculture, environment, police, lands, public works and social services.

In addition there are several private environmental and community empowerment organizations
active in the area:

3.22   Environmental

-   Belize Foundation for Research and Environmental Education (BEFREE),
-   Golden Stream Corridor Preserve,
-   Belize Audubon Society (BAS)
-   Punta Gorda Conservation Committee (PGCC)
-   Toledo Institute for Development and the Environment Development
-   Community Initiated Agriculture & Rural Development Project (CARD)
-   Plenty International
-   United Nations Development Program
-   Help for Progress
-   Belize Enterprise for Sustainable Technology (BEST)
-   Citrus Growers Association
-   Banana Growers Association

The Southern Highway Rehabilitation project will open up the Toledo and South Stann Creek
District to increased economic activity by creating improved road accessibility. Concurrent with
this program is the formation of the Southern Development Project, which will assist
communities in the south to improve agricultural practices and income diversification. The



                                              22
Community Initiated Agriculture and Resource management Project for Southern Belize will
spend $1.9 million while the Agricultural Health Service will spend $4.2 million in FY 2000-2001.

3.23   Stakeholder Map

3.24   Identified Threats for the Consolidation of the MBC

There are several important management considerations to be taken into account when
considering the long-term prospects for this protected area within the Belize Biological Corridors
Network, none of which are insurmountable given the right commitment. The main areas of
concern are:

   -    Minimal local involvement in the management of the Maya Mountain Forest Reserve
       and little knowledge of the protected area status of this reserve, including confusion on
       the part of the community as to where the boundary of the reserve lie,
   -   No management plan, and no on site management of the reserve,
   -   reassess boundary alignment in view of recent encroachment into the reserve,
   -   Rejustify management category of this reserve in view of recent loss of southern portion
       to Columbia River Forest Reserve,
   -    Need to expand on the scientific knowledge base of the reserve which is now almost
       non-existent in order to fine tune future management activities,
   -   Curb illegal hunting and fishing now known to be taking place in the reserve,
   -   No secure financing to ensure future management activities within the reserve.


3.25   Environmental Opportunities for the Consolidation of the MBC

The following are the salient points promoting this reserve as an integral link within the
Mesoamerican Biological Corridors complex:
   - The ecosystem exist in a mostly undisturbed state conducive to vibrant populations of
       plants and animals,
   - The Maya Mountain Forest Reserve is next to the Deep River Forest Reserve which in
       turn connect to the Port Honduras Marine reserve hence creating a solid corridor link
       from the Maya Mountain to the sea,
   - The reserve is surrounded on 3 sides by other protected areas thus reducing the
       boundary vulnerability threat,
   - The reserve protects the Monkey River watershed, the largest watershed in southern
       Belize.
   - Watersheds in this reserve drain into the Gulf of Honduras area, thus activity within this
       area impacts the Gulf Honduras Priority Area

3.26   Selection of Pilot or Work Sites and Key Organizations to Promote the Participative
       Monitoring of the Consolidation of the MBC


3.27   IDENTIFYING INFORMATION GAPS AND THE                       NEEDS     ASSESSMENT        TO
       ESTABLISH LOCAL THEMATIC STRATEGIES

The Maya Mountain Forest Reserve, since its latest reconfiguration is in need of some radical
rethink. Main identified areas for attention are:



                                               23
  -    The reserve badly needs a management plan to guide management thinking and to justify
       current management,
  -    There is almost no physical, climatic or biological data available from the reserve,

3.28    CONCLUSIONS AND RECOMMENDATIONS

  -    Reserve needs a management presence and a budget within which to pursue
       management activities.
  -    Boundary near Trio Village need to be redefined in light of settlements established within
       the MMFR.
  -    Promote system of co-management with communities and work out a system for
       community members to collect building materials and wildlife in reserve under a strict
       supervision regimen.




                                               24
3.3     THE BLADEN NATURE RESERVE


3.3.1   Description.

The Bladen Nature Reserve has attracted considerable attention lately because of its strategic
location in a varied landscape occupying an area known for it’s high biodiversity. It is also an
area central to the development of the southern portion of the Mesoamerican Biological
Corridors forming as it is, part of the larger Maya Mountain block. This reserve is the second
largest statutory declared protected area in Belize and the largest reserve under its designation
of Nature Reserve. Bladen Nature Reserve is also unique in that it is entirely surrounded by
other protected areas, thus ensuring long term buffer zone stability. Recently a management
plan has been drawn up for the reserve and steps taken to ensure some management presence
in the area. Under it’s designation human activities within the reserve will be limited to
education and research with a view to maintaining the natural processes in an undisturbed state
thus ensuring that ecological and genetic resources remain healthy.


3.3.2              Delineation of the Bladen Nature Reserve:

The reserve forms part of the northern boundary of the Toledo District separated from the Cayo
District by the Maya Mountain Divide. It lies between 16 36’ 18” and 16 24’ 34” N Latitude and
88 42’ 16” and 89 04’ 51” E Longitude. This protected area is a part of the Port Honduras
Priority Area. This priority area includes all the protected areas south of the Maya Mountain
Divide, including the Cockscomb Basin Wildlife Sanctuary to the Bladen Nature Reserve and
the Columbia River Forest Reserve.

3.3.3   Geographic Description:

Bladen Nature Reserve lies along the southeast edge of the Maya Mountain Massif. It is
entirely surrounded by protected areas and one private reserve. These reserves are Chiquibul
and Cockscomb Basin to the north and west, BEFREE and Maya Mountains to the east, and
Columbia and Deep River to the south and west. The area receives approximately 2,800 mm of
rainfall per year and lies between 50 and 1000m above sea level. The southeastern portion of
the reserve consists of typical karst topography while the northwestern portion consists of
eroded granite formations with steep slopes that attain considerable heights. The reserve also
includes the Upper portion of Bladen Branch and its entire watershed, hence the management
of this area has important implications for the farming communities further down stream, the
communities along the Monkey River of which the Upper Bladen is a tributary and the Port
Honduras Marine Reserve.

3.3.4   Towns and villages present:

There are several rapidly growing communities, which are most likely to have an impact on the
Bladen Nature Reserve. The communities are Golden Stream (pop. 235), Deep River (pop.
204), Medina Bank (pop. 189), Trio (pop. 301), Bella Vista (pop. not available), Bladen (pop.
180), Nuevo San Juan (pop. 200).




                                               25
3.3.5                Bi-and tri-national linkages:

Although the Bladen Nature Reserve does not have direct binational or trinational park linkage it
is an important route nevertheless. Along with the Columbia Forest Reserve this area is
regarded as the most biologically diverse region of the country containing two life zones at its
various elevation levels. It is also an important conduit feeding into the two major corridor
routes in southern Belize. One route passes through Deep River and the Port of Honduras and
the other now being proposed enters the Columbia Forest Reserve and proceeds into the
Sarstoon Temash National Park. As a Nature Reserve dedicated to minimal human impacts
this area is on a firm footing to facilitate these corridor routes without compromising biodiversity.

3.3.6    Identification of priority areas declared or proposed:

Bladen Nature Reserve is located in the Gulf of Honduras Priority Area, which along with the
Selva Maya are the only two priority areas so far identified for Belize. There are two main
corridor routes linking this priority area to the Gulf of Honduras. One route passes through
Deep River Forest Reserve and the Payne’s Creek National Park, while the other route, which is
only being proposed at this point, will pass out of the Columbia River Forest Reserve and into
the Sarstoon Temash National Park. This route presents some major challenges as it is
densely settled and seriously deforested, however there are organizations and community
groups involved in bringing the disparate factors together in order to consolidate this route.

3.3.7    Identification of corridor modalities:

The Bladen Nature Reserve is an area of pristine habitats that has fully recovered from past
human encroachments. The rugged landscape supports a diverse array of forest types that can
be classified according to the origin of the parent soil materials. The main geological stratums
and their plant communities are:

  -     Communities over alluvium- Bottomland alluvial forest, streamside vegetation, pine
        palmetto woodland, abandoned milpa.
  -     Communities over limestone- Limestone hill forest, limestone knoll forest, jagged
        limestone forest, mountain limestone scrub forest, limestone sinkhole forest.
  -     Communities over granite rock- Mountain thatch palm forest, mountain pine scrub forest,
        disturbed herbaceous vegetation.
  -     The protected areas surrounding the Bladen Nature Reserve are predominantly covered
        by broadleaf vegetation, however there is a large tract of pine forest in the Deep River
        Forest Reserve and in the area of the buffer zone communities. This area also contains
        several large banana plantations and small holder agricultural units.


  3.3.8          Summary of issues

  3.3.9          Environmental Issues:

Under the Holdrige System, the Bladen Nature Reserve falls within 2 distinct life zones. The
largest portion falls within the subtropical wet forest life zone. Other areas predominantly in the
north and northwest rising to over 600 meters falls into the subtropical lower Montane wet forest
life zone. The latter area is poorly characterized due to its inaccessibility in some of the most
rugged terrain of the reserve. During the 80s and 90s the area was the focus of several



                                                     26
scientific expeditions who in their wake lobbied the government to impose a stricter
management category on the reserve in view of its apparent high biodiversity values.

      Flora. The forest of the Bladen is species rich and may have a forest type that is
      otherwise not represented in Belize. In terms of area coverage, plant communities
      growing over limestone cover 58 % of the area followed by communities over granite
      rocks, 34%, and communities over alluvium, 8%. Of the 213 flowering plants so far
      identified, 154 species were represented in one community alone. Reconnaissance
      surveys carried out in the 1990s produced several plant species that were new to Belize
      and a further 3, which may be new to science. In their 1995 expedition to Bladen,
      Brokaw et al. reported a forest type near Quebrado de Oro with a high concentration of
      big trees (greater than 0.7 m dbh) and species rich, which may not have its equivalent
      anywhere else in Belize. It is believed that the high growth rate and longevity of this
      forest may be attributed to the favorable growth inducing condition of its soils, its
      isolation from storms, its proximity to other contrasting vegetation communities and its
      low levels of human disturbance.

      Fauna. The faunal assemblage of the Bladen Nature Reserve has broad representation
      of all the better-known taxa and includes healthy populations of many endangered
      species.

             Invertebrates – Studies on Odonata populations were carried out in 1994 and
             although their diversity was not found to be exceptional, their degree of
             specialization within their given habitats were quite high. The rapid ecological
             assessment (REA) team found 40 species of Odonata, which could be further
             subdivided into 23 species of Zygoptera (damselflies) and 17 species of
             Anisoptera (dragonflies). Small Odonata counts were attributable to the variable
             conditions of the river.

             Fish - There is little available information on fish populations within the Bladen
             Nature Reserve, however anecdotal evidence and the propensity of villagers in
             the surrounding communities to hunt and fish within the reserve would suggest
             population sizes large enough to justify negotiating the rugged terrain.

             Herpetofauna- The Columbia River Forest Reserve and the Bladen Nature
             Reserve has been variously described as the richest herpetofauna region in
             Belize (Meyers, 1993).      Sporadic herpetofauna surveys have produced
             spectacular results. Two species of frogs, new to science have been recorded in
             the Bladen Nature Reserve and in the region next to it. These species
             Eleutheriodactylus chac and Rana juliani were described by Savage (1987) and
             Hillis and Desea (1988) respectively. In addition Mendolson, (1994) described a
             new species of toad, Bufo campbelli that was also found in the reserve.

             Avifauna – The avifaunal population of the Bladen Nature Reserve is quite high
             and very importantly includes large numbers of Nearctic and Neotropical species.
             Of the 189 species recorded for the reserve 30 are known migrants. Also
             noteworthy is that 6 of the 8 bird taxa that are threatened with extinction are well
             represented in the reserve. The list of identified species should expand as more
             expeditions are undertaken.




                                              27
               Mammals – the mammal community inside the reserve is quite diverse and
               includes robust populations of Jaguars (Panthera onca) Pumas (Felis concolor)
               Baird’s Tapir (Tapirus bairdii) and Geoffrey’s Spider Monkey (Ateles geoffroyi),
               which are particularly well represented.

3.31   Socioeconomic Issues:

The Toledo district is the most southerly and the least developed area of Belize. Although it has
the third largest surface area (4,413 sq. km.) of the 6 districts of Belize it has the lowest
population accounting for only 9% of the total population of the country. These figures should
not disguise the fact that this district is also experiencing rapid population increase, both as a
result of high immigration rates from Guatemala (mostly ethnic Maya) and Honduras (Mestizo)
and a high birth rate. Together these 2 factors account for a 4.6% increase in the population
per annum, which is significant by any standard. While the national population between 1990
and 2000 grew by 26.8 % (from 189,392 to 240,204) the population of the Toledo District grew
by 33.6% (from 17,439 to 23,297), a figure significantly higher than the national average. The
participation of women in the labor force stood at 26% in the district (ESTAP 2000). The
nearest urban center is Punta Gorda Town (pop. 4,329) which accounts for the only urban
center in the district. Other indices show that the district has the country’s highest infant
mortality rate (51 per 1000 compared to 23 per1000 in Belize District the country’s lowest) the
lowest rate of access to potable water supply (41% against 81% for the Orange Walk District the
nations highest) and the lowest literacy levels (58.9% compared to Belize District’s 91.9% the
nations highest).

       The Buffer zone Communities – There are several communities, along the southeastern
       corridor whose activities are likely to have an impact on the management of the Bladen
       Nature Reserve. All communities are located outside the reserve and all of them have
       predominantly immigrant Mestizo populations, a good proportion of which are seasonal
       migrant workers. The communities depend for their employment on the banana industry
       which is centered in that area, and which depends for irrigation on the waters coming out
       of the Bladen watershed. Some communities have experienced phenomenal population
       growth rates, which can be partly accounted for by the recent expansions in the citrus
       and banana industry.

       The most important communities in this region are Golden Stream, Deep River, Medina
       Bank, Trio, Bella Vista, Bladen and Nuevo San Juan. The total population of these
       communities is approximately 1,300 persons and growing. The indicators show that
       there is a shift in the population away from remote settlements in favor of areas along
       the Southern Highway of which all the above villages are in close proximity (ESTAP
       2000).

       The rapid growth of the local population is a recent phenomenon and unfortunately the
       basic services have not kept pace. The provision of these services must take into
       account the transient nature of the migrant labor force and the uncertainties of an
       economy largely dependent on a single commodity for its survival. The following is a
       table of the infrastructure and public services available to these communities.




                                               28
Name      of Village       Commu      Primary    Existing   Propos     Electrici   Potable   Commu
Community    Council       nity       School     Health     ed         ty (from    Water     nity
             s             Center                Center /   Health     national    (from     Telepho
                                                 Health     Center/    grid)       rudime    ne
                                                 Post       Health                 ntary
                                                            Post                   water
                                                                                   system)

Golden           *                    *                     *
Stream
(Pop. 235)
Medina Bank      *                    *                     *
(Pop. 189)
Trio                                                                                         CB
(Pop. 301)                                                                                   radio
Bella Vista      *                               *                     *           *
(Pop.)
Bladen
(Pop. 180)
Nuevo      San   *         *          *          *                     *           *         *
Juan
(Pop. 200)

 Table 3.3: Provision of the basic services and infrastructure to the buffer zone communities of
 Bladen Nature Reserve.


 Local Industries- The economy of the Toledo District is fundamentally agrarian, however recent
 trends have shown some diversification into mariculture and ecotourism. The economy of the
 buffer zone communities is dependent on the local banana industry and to a lesser extent on
 citrus production, both of which are in turn dependent on a ready supply of cheap labor.

    Bananas – The banana industry centered in the Bladen Area employ over 3000 persons at
    its various production levels. The entire area has a heavy reliance on this industry and
    indeed future economic forecast for this area is essentially a forecast of how well this
    industry fares in the medium and long term. The industry has a heavy reliance on foreign
    migrant labor (70%) mostly drawn from Honduras and to a lesser extent from Guatemala.
    Many of these laborers have become, or are in the process of becoming permanent
    residents. Recent surveys show that 61% of farm field laborers are males but with a
    preponderance of women in the packing plants.

    Citrus – This industry is centered mainly to the north of the buffer zone area and is
    headquartered in the Pomona Valley. At normal times the industry employs about 3000
    workers but in peak season this number generally rises up to 5,500 persons. Of this total
    about 15 to 20 percent of the total employment accrues to the residents of the regions along
    the Southern Highway, of which the buffer zone communities are a part.

 3.32   Institutional – There are various government and private agencies involved in
        development work within the area. The most prominent are:



                                                29
   -   Environmental & Social Technical Assistance Project (ESTAP) – Aims to promote socio-
       economic development in the southern region in tandem with the civil development
       accompanying the Southern Highway Rehabilitation Project. The project aims to
       enhance the quality of life of all the people in the region through the efficient and
       sustainable allocation of resources, the promotion of social and economic growth, and
       the meaningful participation and contribution of the region’s people in the overall
       development of Belize.
   -   Social Investment Fund (SIF) – Undertakes poverty alleviation work through promoting
       community infrastructural development and training.
   -   Community Groups - In addition all communities have village councils, women’s groups,
       church groups and youth groups that are at various times dormant and active.
   -   United Banners Bananas Worker’s Union and SPEAR – Are committed to promoting
       worker’s rights and promoting dialogue between management and labor.
   -   Government Agencies – the government is engaged through its Departments of
       Forestry, Agriculture, Environment, Police, Lands, Public Works and Social Services.

   In addition there are several private environmental and community empowerment
   organization active in the area:
   Environmental
   - Belize Foundation for Research and Environmental Education (BEFREE),
   - Golden Stream Corridor Preserve,
   - Belize Audubon Society (BAS)
   - Punta Gorda Conservation Committee (PGCC)
   - Toledo Institute for the Development and the Environment

   Development
   - Community Initiated Agriculture & Rural Development Project (CARD)
   - Plenty International
   - United Nations Development Program
   - Help for Progress
   - Belize Enterprise for Sustainable Technology (BEST)
   - Citrus Growers Association
   - Banana Growers Association

   The Southern Highway Rehabilitation project will open up the Toledo and South Stann
   Creek District to increased economic activity by creating improved road accessibility.
   Concurrent with this program is the formation of the Southern Development Project, which
   will assist communities in the south in agricultural improvement and income diversification.
   The Community Initiated Agriculture and Resource management Project for Southern Belize
   will spend $1.9 million while the Agricultural Health Service will spend $4.2 million in FY
   2000-2001.


3.33   STAKEHOLDER MAP


3.34   IDENTIFIED THREATS FOR THE CONSOLIDATION OF THE PRIORITY AREA

There are several important management considerations to be taken into account when
considering the long term prospects for this protected area within the Belize Biological Corridors



                                               30
System none of which are insurmountable given the right commitment. The main areas of
concern are:

-   Minimal local involvement in the management of the Bladen Nature Reserve and little local
   knowledge of its protected area status,
-   No on site management and supervision of the reserve,
- Chemical runoffs from the banana and citrus farms may affect aquatic life within the
   Bladen’s water system and thus impacting the wider food chain,
- Little knowledge of the resource base, need to expand on the scientific knowledge of the
   reserve in order to fine tune future management activities,
-   Illegal hunting and fishing now known to be taking place in the reserve,
- No secure financing to ensure future management activities within the reserve,
.   The restrictive management designation of this reserve preclude traditional extractive use,
thus alienating community support and increasing the likelihood that community members will
see the reserve as having no useful purpose.


3.35   ENVIRONMENTAL OPPORTUNITIES FOR THE CONSOLIDATION OF THE MBC

The following are the salient points promoting this reserve as an integral link in the
Mesoamerican Biological Corridors complex:

-   The ecosystem exist in an undisturbed state conducive to vibrant populations of plants and
      animals,
-   The Bladen Nature Reserve is surrounded by protected areas forming a solid link to a large
    network of Belizean protected areas and to protected areas in Guatemala.
-   The reserve protects tributaries of the important Monkey River watershed which in turn
    supports one of Belize’s largest agro industry,
-   Reserve is 90% inaccessible in the dry season and almost completely cut off in the rainy
    season, circumstances which paradoxically favor the management of the wildlife
    populations,
-   Boundaries in areas subject to encroachment have been cleared and demarcated,
-   A management/ advisory group called the “Bladen Consortium” is up and active being most
    recently tasked with the preparation of a management plan for the reserve,
-   Two long - term research projects have been approved for the Bladen, which falls within the
    recently drafted guidelines specifically, prepared for this reserve.
-     Watersheds drain away from the reserve finding its way eventually into the Caribbean
      Sea.

3.36 SELECTION OF PILOT OR WORK SITES AND KEY ORGANIZATIONS TO PROMOTE
     THE PARTICIPATIVE MONITORING OF THE CONSOLIDATION OF THE MBC


3.37 IDENTIFYING INFORMATION GAPS AND                      THE     NEEDS     ASSESSMENT         TO
     ESTABLISH LOCAL THEMATIC STRATEGIES

The Bladen like most of the other protected areas have gaps within the knowledge base that
needs to be filled. There is a need for further work on the identification of the flora and fauna as
well as the monitoring of sensitive sites. These shortcomings should not detract attention from
recent developments, which has put the Bladen Nature Reserve forward as an area promoting
progressive management practices. An entrance gate has been installed on the main access


                                                31
road and boundary signage erected along the recently demarcated boundary lines.
Management meetings have identified the main threats to the reserve and tentative steps taken
to meet with community members of the adjacent communities. In addition recent incursions
into the reserve for logging and housing developments have been halted and the perpetrators
prosecuted.


3.38   CONCLUSIONS AND RECOMMENDATIONS

The Bladen Nature Reserve has been promoted as the central link in the development of the
Mesoamerican Biological Corridors Program. However the management institutions need to be
strengthened and this can only take place within a comprehensive framework, which addresses
financial, research, monitoring and protection issues.




                                             32
3.4     THE COLUMBIA RIVER FOREST RESERVE


3.4.1   Description

The Columbia River Forest Reserve is one of the better-known sites within the Belize Protected
Areas System. The site first came to national prominence during the period 1955-1963 as the
center for experimentation with the Taungya System and most recently as a showpiece for
sustainable logging. Its primary justification is to promote sustainable hardwood production,
watershed protection and high biodiversity. After several realignments of the boundary (to
accommodate agricultural expansion), the approximate area is now 60,039 ha. The area given
account for past excision and the recent addition of the southern portion of the Maya Mountain
Forest Reserve. Between 1992 and 1994 a draft management plan was produced for the
Colombia Forest Reserve under the auspices of the Forest Planning and Management Project
(FPMP). The plan was based on a selective rotational system for timber harvesting tied to
defined annual felling coupes. In preparation for extraction a forest inventory was carried out
and the communities consulted. Unfortunately however, tacit political support did not translate
into action in support of the plan and the whole system soon reverted back to the previous
uncouth system of giving out logging concessions without validating the concessionaires on the
FPMP guidelines. This has in turn raised the ire of local indigenous communities who believe
that their interest has not been taken into account and in response have organized themselves
in opposition to the logging. This highly contentious situation has still not been resolved.


3.4.2   Delineation of the Columbia River Forest Reserve.

The Columbia River Forest Reserve is located in the Toledo District, the most southerly district
of Belize. The reserve is centered on latitude 89000 W Latitude and 16020 N Longitude and
covers an area of 60,039 ha. As is the case with almost all the protected areas considered in
this exercise there is considerable variation in the area quoted for this reserve depending on the
source. The area quoted here is extracted from the June 2000 listing of protected areas
produced by the Conservation Department.

The reserve borders the Guatemalan border to the west, The Maya Mountain Divide and
Chiquibul National Park to the north and the Bladen Nature Reserve and the Maya Mountain
Forest Reserve to the east. To the south are the rural communities of the Toledo District.

3.4.3   Geographic Description:

The reserve lies at the southern foothills of the Maya Mountains and has a varied topography
but mostly consisting of medium to high limestone karst checkered by numerous caves and
sinkholes. The elevation of the terrain within the reserve ranges from 274-823 m above sea
level with average rainfall of 2540mm in the lower elevations but rising rapidly with increased
height. An interesting topographic feature comprised of a tilted fault block of prophorytic rock
runs for 9 miles within the reserve. This feature, called Little Quartz Ridge is separate from the
Maya Mountains and reaches a height of up to 896 m. The reserve is accessed from the west,
which has a well defined trail.

The area has high hydrological significance as the watershed for two important drainage basins
feeding into the Rio Grande, and the Moho River, both which drain into the Gulf Honduras area
of the Caribbean Sea.


                                               33
3.4.4     Towns and villages present:

There are a number of villages present on the southern fringes of the reserve. There are also
communities in close proximity on the Guatemalan side of the border, which may account for
reports supported by satellite imagery of cross border milpa clearings within the reserve. There
are 16 communities within walking distance of the reserve whose activities could impact the
reserve on a daily basis (Marcus et al 1995). Mayas belonging to the Ketchi and Mopan ethnic
group populate communities on both sides of the border. The following is a list of communities,
population and growth rates.

Village                             Population 1990    Population       % Increase
                                                       1980
San Pedro Columbia               896                   784              14.3
Silver Creek                     262                   175              50
San Miguel                       363                   227              60
San Jose                         705                   599              18
Crique Sarco                     267                   164              62.8
Na Luum Ca                       77                    0                Na
San Antonio                      1097                  1087             0.9
Santa Elena                      151                   177              -14.7
Santa Cruz                       438                   349              25.5
Pueblo Viejo                     511                   346              47.7
Jalacte                          511                   58               781
San Vicente                      144                   0                Na
Mafredi                          143                   129              10.8
Big Falls & Esperanza            1132                  323              250
Indian Creek                     44                    264              600
Golden Stream                    235                   68               245.6
Total                            7376                  4750             55 % inc
Table 3.4.4: Population figures and trends for buffer zone communities.
NB. Population figures for census 2000 though enumerated were not available by individual
communities at the time of this study


3.4.5     Bi-and tri-national linkages:

The Columbia River Forest Reserve is a pivotal corridor linkage into southern Belize. The
reserve borders the Guatemalan park Reserva de la Biosfera Montanas Mayas for about 18 km.
and therefore has direct binational park linkage into an area of the Peten that is rapidly being
deforested. It is also the link between the Maya Mountains and the Southern lowland, which
continues on into Sarstoon Temash National Park and the Port of Honduras, thus being an
important part of the Gulf of Honduras Priority Area. All settled area along the fringe of the
reserve are experiencing heavy human impact and rapidly increasing population.

3.4.6     Identification of priority areas declared or proposed:

Columbia River Forest Reserve is a protected area within the Gulf of Honduras Priority Area,
which includes all protected areas south of the Maya Mountain Divide.



                                                   34
3.4.7   Identification of corridor modalities:

The reserve contains broadleaf forest, montane forest, pine savannah and secondary broadleaf
forest. The secondary forest are the results of milpa plantations abandoned by milperos from
the southern communities mainly near Union Camp and near the Guatemalan village of Santa
Rosa on the Machaquilla Plain. They also occur in small patches as cross-border agricultural
incursions from Guatemala. At the higher elevations where the rainfall is much higher the forest
develops characteristics similar to those of a tropical wet forest having tall trees within climax
vegetation.


3.4.8   Summary of issues

3.4.9   Environmental Issues:

Under the Holdrige Life Zone Classification System, the Columbia River Forest Reserve falls
mainly within the Subtropical Lower Montane Wet region, however there are some Subtropical
Lower Montane Moist to the west, and Subtropical Wet to the east. The Columbia River Forest
Reserve has long been regarded as one of the most ecologically rich areas in Belize and with
good reasons. Several species rare in Belize are common in the park, and others that have not
been found elsewhere in the country have been found here. Serious levels of human
encroachment have beset the reserve to the extent that the reserve boundary has had to be
changed several times (1977and 1994)

    Flora. The Columbia River Forest Reserve has a diverse floral assemblage. There have
   been 400 plant species recorded for the site, many of them first identifications for Belize. As
   an example of species richness and the unique quality of this ecosystem to Belize, of the 68
   fern species collected 15 were previously unrecorded. The Little Quartz Ridge must be
   singled out for special mention as a distinctive ecosystem with vegetation communities that
   are different from the nearby Maya mountains indicating its independent geological origin.
   The Columbian River Forest Reserve has marketable timber in commercial volumes for
   whose controlled extraction a management plan has been drawn up. Of the original area of
   40,000 ha. Quoted it was estimated that sustained yield timber production could only take
   place on 25,000ha of the total area after allowances had been made for steep terrain,
   excisions for farming, and designated low impact zones. On a 40 year selective rotational
   logging cycle this means that 600 ha. Could be harvested on an annual basis by the
   concessionaire (T J Synnot 1992). A prerequisite for this undertaking is that the parties
   concerned are obligated to minimize the impacts upon environmental and biodiversity
   values, including global values; and with the central theme, that the operation be sustainable
   in maintaining the economic and environmental resource upon which the industry will be
   based. Future assessments on the biological diversity and integrity of this reserve will have
   to determine whether the stated goals have in fact been realized on the ground considering
   the tumultuous world of tropical timber exploitation.

   Fauna. Although the zoogeographical affinities of this reserve have not yet been
   determined, it seems clear that its relationship is more complex than for most of the other
   protected areas. The list of documented faunal species extracted from this reserve now
   stands at 389, but this number does not fully reflect the faunal diversity of this site and is
   more an indication of faunal neglect, than a reflection on the intrinsic quality of the site.




                                                 35
   Invertebrates – Data on invertebrate diversity and populations are incomplete but has so far
   identified 19 species of Odonata and 18 species of Lepidoptera. As valuable indicator
   species for forest disturbance, further studying of these species and long term monitoring
   will be important to determine the level of disturbance caused by logging activity within the
   reserve.

   Fish - There is little available information on fish populations within the Columbia River
   Forest Reserve although it is assumed that they will be representative for the region as a
   whole. Even though fish diversity on a whole might be intact there are indications of heavy
   hunting in the area for commercially valuable species of wildlife and it is expected that this
   activity extend down to the fish population.

   Herpetofauna- Initial work on herpetofauna has produced promising results. Of the 14
   species of amphibians and 19 species of reptiles identified so far, at least two of the frog
   species were a first for science and the other two previously unrecorded for Belize. The two
   new species belonged to the genus Eleuthrodactylus and the other two Hyla minera and H.
   bromeliacea have only been identified in two other places.

   Avifauna – Up to 232 species of birds have been identified in the reserve, of which 90% are
   considered regional endemics limited to evergreen lowland forest. Other birds include wet
   foothill species and a small number of montane species. At least 15 of the birds identified
   have restricted ranges and are known to be threatened by deforestation elsewhere in their
   range. Additionally 35 of the bird species identified are considered rare or accidental in
   Belize but are represented by large populations within the reserve. There are also
   significant numbers of neotropical migrants. The Cerulean Warbler a nearctic migrant which
   inhabits the Eastern US and over winters in Colombia and Bolivia has rarely been spotted
   on its migratory route through mid-America but has been reported in the reserve.

   Mammals – the mammal community inside the reserve is considered typical for lowland
   forest. Of the 53 species of bats and mammals recorded thus far, none are considered to
   be new for the records. Important endangered species recorded so far include Baird’s Tapir
   (Tapirus bairdii), Jaguar (Panthera onca), Black Howler Monkey (Alouatta pigra pigra) and
   the Spider Monkey (Ateles geoffroyi vellerosus).

3.41   Socioeconomic Issues:

The Toledo District is the most southerly and the least developed area of Belize. Although it
has the third largest surface area (4,413 sq. km.) of the 6 districts of Belize it has the lowest
population accounting for only 9% of the total population of the country. The district is
experiencing rapid population increases both as a result of high immigration rates from
Guatemala (mostly ethnic Maya) and Honduras (Mestizo). While the national population
between 1990 and 2000 grew by 26.8 % (from 189,392 to 240,204) the population of the Toledo
District grew by 33.6% (from 17,439 to 23,297), a figure significantly higher than the national
average. This rapid increase is somewhat tempered by the outward migration of the skilled and
productive population from the district in search of better opportunities in other more developed
regions of the country. The nearest urban center is Punta Gorda Town (pop. 4,329) which
accounts for the only urban center in the district. Other human development indices show that
the district has the country’s highest infant mortality rate (51 per 1000 compared to 23 per1000
in Belize District, the country’s lowest) the lowest rate of access to potable water supply (41%
against 81% for the Orange Walk district, the nations highest) and the lowest literacy levels
(58.9% compared to Belize District’s 91.9%, the nations highest).


                                               36
    The Mayan Communities – There are a ring of Mayan farming communities on the southern
    boundary of the Columbia River Forest Reserve. Although slowly diversifying their
    economic base these communities are still essentially agrarian and sedentary. The human
    development statistics show that of all the ethnic groups the Mayas of the Toledo District are
    the poorest with a staggering 65.8%of the population being defined as poor of which 30.4%
    are classified as indigent. While the population growth rate in the Toledo District may be
    high on the national scale it is even higher among these communities where it reached
    35.7% for the 2000 census. This population increase has resulted in a commensurate
    increase in the demand for land, which has the potential to impact heavily on the reserve.
    Pressure for land has caused the boundary of the Columbia River Forest Reserve to be
    redrawn in the past to take into account the expansion of the agricultural frontier into the
    reserve. Observations have shown no abating in this trend. It is estimated based on remote
    imagery that the cleared acreage within the reserve had increased from 30 acres in 1987 to
    300 acres in 1994. It is clear that to arrest this trend there will be a need to promote
    sustainable development within the fringe communities, which will create employment and
    an incentive for forest conservation. In addition Wilson (1995) identified 618 ha. of grade 1
    agricultural lands within the Columbia River and Maya Mountain Forest Reserve which have
    been recommended in several studies for dereservation for community use. Many of the
    community members identify closely with the natural ecosystems that support their lifestyles
    and have come out against the timber and oil exploration rights that have been awarded to
    certain industries to log and mine the area. They have lobbied heavily, both nationally and
    internationally, to draw attention to their cause and have even brought their case to the Inter
    American Commission on Human Rights. Recently the Mayas signed a historic agreement
    with the Government of Belize to establish a program to address the land needs of the
    Mayan Communities in Toledo and to include the Mayan Leaders in the design and
    implementation of development programs and other matters affecting the Mayan populace.


Name      of Village       Commu       Primary    Existing    Propos     Electrici   Potable    Commu
Community    Council       nity        School     Health      ed         ty (from    Water      nity
             s             Center                 Center /    Health     national    (from      Telepho
                                                  Health      Center/    grid)       rudime     ne
                                                  Post        Health                 ntary
                                                              Post                   water
                                                                                     system)
San      Pedro   *         *           *          *                      *           *          *
Columbia
Pop. 1000
Silver Creek     *         *           *                                 *           Hand
Pop. 262                                                                             pumps
San Miguel       *         *           *                                             Hand       *
Pop. 363                                                                             pumps
San Jose         *         *           *                                             Hand       *
Pop. 900                                                                             pumps
Crique Jute      *         *           *                                 Being       Hand
Pop. (?)                                                                 installe    pumps
                                                                         d




                                                 37
Na Luum Caj     *                     *
Pop. 224
San Antonio     *          *          *          *                      *          *          *
Pop. C 1458
Santa Elena     *          *          *                     *           Availabl   Hand
Pop. 250                                                                e    but   pumps
                                                                        not
                                                                        connect
                                                                        ed
Santa Cruz      *          *          *                     *           Being      Hand
Pop. 397                                                                installe   pumps
                                                                        d
Pueblo Viejo    *          *          *          *                                 Hand       *
Pop. 690                                                                           pumps
Jalacte         *          *          *                     *                      Hand       *
Pop. 500                                                                           pump
San Vicente     *                     *                     *
Pop. 144
Mafredi         *          *          *                     *           *          Hand
Pop. 143                                                                           pumps
Big Falls       *          *          *          *                      *          In         *
Pop. 1132                                                                          progres
                                                                                   s
Indian Creek    *          *          *                                            Hand       *
Pop. 444                                                                           pumps
Golden          *                     *                     *                      Hand
Stream                                                                             pump
Pop. 235
Hicattee        *                     *
Pop. (?)

 Table 3.41 Basic services and infrastructure available to the buffer zone communities (source
 ESTAP 2000)

    The Forest Industries- There are several large concession holders logging in the so-called
    “Mayan Forest”. The government has awarded 17 logging concessions to 202,347 ha. Of
    land surrounding the Mayan Communities and the Columbia River Forest Reserve. For
    many years this reserve laid beyond the reach of the loggers due to inaccessibility. Even up
    to the period 1980-1990 concession holders were only able to get out a few logs. Since
    then the situation has changed dramatically as the area has become more accessible. A
    concession awarded to a Mexican Company in 1991 and later to two Malaysian companies
    opened up the area to systematic exploitation. In theory the companies are obliged to follow
    the management plan prepared by the Forest Planning and Management Project (FPMP)
    however there is some uncertainty as to whether these stipulations are being enforced on
    the ground. This uncertainty plus the feeling that they have been left out in the process has
    galvanized the Mayan Communities into action in the interest of protecting their ancestral
    lands.    The situation has since then has been plagued by contradictions and
    countermeasures including the giving and revoking of timber licenses, which are then
    subsequently reissued.



                                               38
The Guatemalan Settlements – There are several Guatemalan Mayan communities bordering
the reserve. These communities have been deforested up to the Belizean border in a swath of
deforestation that extends straight across Guatemala. Satellite imagery show that there are
pockets of deforestation in the reserve along the Guatemalan Border. More ominously from an
ecological and political perspective are the occasional settlements that have been established in
the area by foreign nationals.

3.42    Institutional

There are several conservation and indigenous organizations active in the area as well as the
usual government agencies. Prominent indigenous groups are The Toledo Maya Cultural
Council, The Toledo Alcalde Association, the Ketchi Council, The Toledo Maya Women’s
Council and the Village Councils association of the Mayan Communities.

Involved NGO and Civil Society Organizations are the Protected Areas Conservation Trust
(PACT), Toledo Institute for Development and the Environment (TIDE), Southern Alliance for
Grassroots Empowerment (SAGE), Aqua Caliente Management Team, Aquacate Farmers Co-
op, Belize Indigenous Training Institute, Environmental & Social Technical Assistance Project,
Golden Stream Corridor Preserve, Plenty International, Punta Gorda conservation Committee,
Rising Sun Women’s Group, Sarstoon / Temash National Park Steering Committee, Toledo Bee
Keepers and Farmers Cooperative, Toledo Cacoa Growers Association, Toledo Ecotourism
Association and Toledo Grain Growers Association. These organizations are operating across
a broad front to promote development throughout the district through people empowerment.
The Southern Highway Rehabilitation project will open up the Toledo district to increased
economic activity by creating improved road accessibility. Concurrent with this program is the
formation of the Southern Development Project, which will assist communities in the south in
agricultural improvement and income diversification. The Community Initiated Agriculture and
Resource management Project for Southern Belize will spend $1.9 million while the Agricultural
Health Service will spend $4.2 million in FY 2000-2001.


3.43    STAKEHOLDER MAP


3.44    IDENTIFIED THREATS FOR THE CONSOLIDATION OF THE PRIORITY AREA

As the reserve spread over the most southern and tropical corner of the Maya Mountains, the
Columbia River Forest Reserve has long been the focus of serious attention on the part of
environmentalist and forest resource users. Unfortunately the relationship between the 2
groups has been tempestuous at best, with serious differences arising over the use and
management of the resource. The forest management plan produced by the Forest Department
is a tentative first step in the right direction that if adhered to could bring the 2 groups together
around clearly defined objectives and procedures. To consolidate this process, other actions
must follow to allow management to anticipate and respond properly to future threats. These
include:

  -    Ensuring that ensuring that there are sufficient enforcement personnel on the ground
       adheres to the provisions of the management plan. Sustainable logging is a tricky
       business with great latitude for infraction of the rules if not monitored closely.
  -    In order to ensure the permanence of the reserve in the long run and curb the rapid
       deforestation now taking place in the buffer zone appropriate attitudes must be cultivated


                                                 39
       in the residents of the fringe zone communities who must be given the right incentives to
       regard the forest as more of a standing asset than a hindrance to agriculture.
  -    Game animals are badly depleted in the reserves and this does not bode well for the
       reserves ability to act as a corridor linkage. This also disrupts the food chain of its
       predator population which have a high “tourist value” and are the backbone for any viable
       ecotourism enterprise which may develop in the communities,
  -    Undertake immediate studies to catalogue the flora and fauna of the area before further
       disturbance produce irreversible changes,
  -    The Southern Highway Rehabilitation Project has the potential of releasing powerful pro-
       development forces that may exact a heavy environmental price on the fragile
       environments on this most biologically endowed of our districts. The proposed Pan
       American highway linkage, which will be routed through this area, can have an even more
       destabilizing effect.


3.45 ENVIRONMENTAL OPPORTUNITIES FOR THE CONSOLIDATION OF THE MBC

The following are salient points that promote the viability of this reserve as an integral link of the
Mesoamerican Biological Corridors.
  - The Columbia River Forest Reserve has a solid link to a large network of Belizean
      protected areas and to protected areas in Guatemala, which border it.
  - The reserve protects the watersheds of 2 important rivers (Rio Grande and Moho) and
      several lesser streams. These waterways are the most direct connection between the
      Selva Maya West and the Gulf of Honduras.
  - The many environmental groups proliferating in the southern region bodes well for
      sustained advocacy action to change attitudes and promote dialogue with the various
      stakeholders, similarly the financing made available by the Southern Highway
      Rehabilitation Project has the potential to kick start sustainable approaches to land use
      and development which are more compatible with the goals of the biological corridors
      project.


3.46 SELECTION OF PILOT OR WORK SITES AND KEY ORGANIZATIONS TO PROMOTE
     THE PARTICIPATIVE MONITORING OF THE CONSOLIDATION OF THE MBC


3.47    IDENTIFYING INFORMATION GAPS AND THE                        NEEDS      ASSESSMENT         TO
        ESTABLISH LOCAL THEMATIC STRATEGIES

The following information gaps are identified for this protected area:
  - Need for environmental monitoring and professional studies to determine environmental
      impacts on this reserve primarily as it relates to the logging activities,
  - Further characterization of the flora and fauna is necessary to properly define the unique
      features of this reserve.


3.48    CONCLUSIONS AND RECOMMENDATIONS

  -     Excise remaining agricultural lands from the reserve,
  -    Strong community involvement is a must to curb illegal activities within this reserve,
       promote some form of co-management arrangement,


                                                 40
-   Promote consistent monitoring of logging activities, update and refine logging regime in
    light of present impacts.




                                           41
3.5     THE DEEP RIVER FOREST RESERVE

3.5.1   Description


The Deep River Forest Reserve was established in 1941 to enable the protection and managed
exploitation of pine. Since then other justifications both environmental and economic have been
expounded upon. A primary current justification is for the protection of corridor habitats from the
Maya Mountains to the Snake Cayes a part of the area dubbed the “Maya Mountain Marine
Area Transect” (MMMAT). Central to this strategy is the protection of crucial watersheds, which
feed into the Port of Honduras. The reserve has an area of 31,387 ha. But the exact area is
contentious since numerous agricultural excisions from the forest reserve have been made
without due recourse to appropriate dereservation procedures. The site is managed by the
Forest Department and is overseen by staff operating out of its Toledo Office, where 1 forester,
1 forest ranger and 2 forest guards are responsible for the entire district.



3.5.2   Delineation of the Deep River Forest Reserve:

The Deep River Forest Reserve is bounded on its northwestern end by the Columbia River
Forest Reserve, Bladen Nature Reserve, and Maya Mountain Forest Reserve. Public and
private lands and a private reserve bound its midrib on 2 sides. The Payne’s Creek National
Park and the Port of Honduras Marine Reserve bound its southeastern end. This reserve forms
the current terrestrial boundary of the Gulf of Honduras Priority Area, which also includes
Payne’s Creek National Park, and all the protected marine areas of southern Belize.

3.5.3   Geographic Description:

The Deep River Forest Reserve is located in the Toledo District. The upper areas of the reserve
consist of a calcareous rock base while the midsections consist of hilly calcareous sedimentary
rocks. The terrain is rolling and undulating and has a main river running through it (Deep River).
The soils are a mixture of clays formed from the degradation of shales and slates, and coarse
granitic sands from the degradation of the Maya Mountains. The soil is highly erodable once
the forest cover has been removed with the upper soil horizon soon washed off under
deforestation conditions, leaving an inhospitable rocky layer that retards plant growth. At the
interface between the coastal areas and the interior a complex relationship develops where
terrestrial, freshwater and marine habitats converge.

3.5.3   Towns and villages present:

The village of Medina Bank, located along the Southern Highway borders the reserve where it is
bisected by the highway. Other communities within daily communication distance are Golden
Stream and Indian Creek as well as the Trio/Swasey/Bladen area, Punta Negra and Monkey
River, which have a cumulative population of about 3000 persons. The Southern Highway cuts
through the center of the reserve providing easy access from the neighboring communities and
further afield.

3.5.4   Bi-and tri-national linkages:




                                                42
As an integral part of the rump Maya Mountain Marine Area Transect the Deep River Forest
Reserve is a part of an important segment in the biological corridors network. As the heart of
the larger Deep River Watershed catchment area of some 357 km 2 it is one of the major
watersheds of the Port of Honduras area, interfacing the Belizean, Honduran and Guatemalan
marine and terrestrial areas. There is therefore a clear physical and ecological link between
Deep River and the Port of Honduras and the areas further afield. As well there is a direct
linkage from Deep River into the Maya Mountains and thence into Selva Maya Central and
Selva Maya North regions.

3.5.5   Identification of priority areas declared or proposed:

This reserve is located in the Gulf of Honduras Priority Area, one of the 2 priority areas currently
identified for Belize, the other which constitutes the bulk of the terrestrial component is the Selva
Maya Priority Area.

3.5.6   Identification of corridor modalities:

The corridor is dissected with numerous streams, which drain the Deep River watershed and
drain into the Deep River before entering the Port of Honduras area. In the lower reaches of the
watershed terrestrial, estuarine and marine habitats converge in a slow moving river causing
salt water to travel far up the river and nourish a large mangrove community. These mangrove
strips cover an area of about 26km2 and are especially dominant in the lower reaches of the
river where the slow moving water has caused ponding areas to develop. Within this same
areas are pine ridge savannahs interspersed with the mangroves. Higher areas of the
watershed are mixtures of pine forest and broadleaf forest. The adjacent Golden Stream
Reserve is an area of mostly broadleaf forest, while Payne’s Creek National Park has habitats
analogous to Deep River’s. The buffer zone communities practice subsistence agriculture
although some citrus and few large banana plantations are also present.


3.5.7   Summary of issues

3.5.8   Environmental Issues:

Under the Holdrige Life Zone System, the Deep River Forest Reserve falls into the subtropical
wet area and has undetermined zoogeographical affinities. The area was known to be rich in
wildlife including freshwater species of fish, however recent assessments at the adjacent
Golden Stream Reserve found scant population of the common wildlife species which was
entirely attributed to hunting pressure, some of which were suspected to originate from
Guatemala (Bowen-Jones and Pop, 2000). A recently constructed forest guard post within the
reserve, at the entrance road to Bladen Nature Reserve should contribute to the monitoring and
control of this activity. Apart from this, the staff responsible for this reserve is operating out of
Savannah Forest Station.          In recent times the reserve has experienced no serious
environmental impacts aside from the timber operators harvesting small concessions of which
there is currently only one concession holder. The villagers of Medina Bank situated along the
Southern Highway have laid claim to strips of reserve land within their area.

        Flora. There are no available data on the floral communities within Deep River Forest
        Reserve other than general descriptions of the mangrove, pine and hardwood forest.




                                                 43
        Fauna. The documented faunal assemblage for the Deep River Forest Reserve is very
        low. This is definitely due to neglect of this area and not to any inherent quality of the
        site. The faunal list of documented species has 46 entries. Of this there are 9
        amphibians, 4 reptiles, 1 mammal no birds and 31 species of odonata. Every indication
        suggest that the diversity of flora and fauna in this area should be among the most
        diverse in Belize given the convergence of contrasting habitats and the relatively pristine
        nature of the reserve. In the absence of documented sightings anecdotal evidence
        indicate the presence of otherwise endangered species such as the Jaguar (Panthera
        onca), Ocelot (Lepardus pardalis pardalis), Margay (Lepardus wiedii yucatanica),
        Jaguarondi (Herpailurus yagouaroundi fossata), Baird’s Tapir (Tapirus bairdii), Collared
        Peccary (Pecari tajuca), White-lipped Peccary (Tayassu Pecari ringens), White Tailed
        Deer (Odocoileus virginianus truei), Red Brockett Deer (Mazama americana), Spider
        Monkey (Ateles Geoffroyi), Black Howler Monkey (Alouatta pigra pigra) and the
        Southern River Otter (Lontra longicaudus annectens).


        Fish - There is little available information on fish populations within the Deep River
        Forest Reserve but a conjectural generalization may be drawn to the nearby Monkey
        River where tarpon, snook, and other anadromous and river fish are plentiful. Also
        abundant are freshwater turtles and crocodiles. It is known that manatees frequent the
        mouth of the Deep River most likely parts of regional populations that travel back and
        forth between Belizean waters and the Lago Isabal in Guatemala. An Amazonian
        Dolphin belonging to the family, Tucoxi and adapted to live near estuarine habitats has
        reportedly been spotted near this river. If the reports were true this would be the furthest
        recorded sighting of this particular genus north of Amazonian waters.

3.5.9   Socioeconomic Issues:

The Toledo District is the most southerly and the least developed area of Belize. Although it
has the third largest surface area (4,413 sq. km.) of the 6 districts of Belize it has the lowest
population accounting for only 9% of the total population of the country. These figures should
not disguise the fact that this district is also experiencing rapid population increase both as a
result of high immigration rates from Guatemala (mostly ethnic Maya) and Honduras (Mestizo)
combined with high birth rate, low infant mortality and an increase in life expectancy. While the
national population between 1990 and 2000 grew by 26.8 % (from 189,392 to 240,204) the
population of the Toledo District grew by 33.6% (from 17,439 to 23,297), a figure significantly
higher than the national average. The nearest and only urban center in the district is Punta
Gorda Town (pop. 4,329). Other indices confirm unfavorable human development indicators.
The district has the country’s highest infant mortality rate (51 per 1000 compared to 23 per1000
in Belize District the country’s lowest) the lowest rate of access to potable water supply (41%
against 81% for the Orange Walk district the nations highest) and the lowest literacy levels
(58.9% compared to Belize District’s 91.9% the nations highest).

   The local Communities - There are 2 rapidly growing communities that are in the buffer zone
   area of the Deep River Forest reserve. They are both populated by indigenous Mayas. The
   villages are:

        Golden Stream – population 235 has a mixture of Kekchi and Mopan Mayas whose main
        activities are subsistence farming. There is also a large banana farm (Golden Stream
        Plantation), which offers employment to some of the area residents. The community
        lacks access to electricity, potable water, and telephone services. The village lies next


                                                44
       to the private Golden Stream Corridor Preserve, which is being managed as a broadleaf
       corridor hence complementing and supplementing but not replacing the Deep River
       route through the addition of another vegetation type corridor leading into the Port
       Honduras area.

       Medina Bank – has a population of 189 persons mainly engaged in subsistence farming.
       Like Golden Stream this community lacks access to the basic services such as
       electricity, potable water and telephone. This community is located smack in the middle
       of Deep River Forest Reserve along the Southern Highway, which passes through the
       reserve. The land being used by the community are surveyed leases taken out of the
       reserve but there is also a portion being used, which is still technically a part of the
       reserve.

3.51   Institutional:

There are several conservation and indigenous organizations active in the area as well as the
usual government agencies. Prominent indigenous groups are The Toledo Maya Cultural
Council, The Toledo Alcalde Association, the Ketchi Council, The Toledo Maya Women’s
Council and the Village Councils Association of the Mayan Communities.

Additionally NGO and civil society organizations are at work in the area operating on various
fronts. These organizations are Protected Areas Conservation Trust (PACT), Toledo Institute
for Development and the Environment (TIDE), Southern Alliance for Grassroots Empowerment
(SAGE), Belize Indigenous Training Institute, Chairladies Fajina Association, Environmental &
Social Technical Assistance Project, Golden Stream Corridor Preserve, Plenty International,
Punta Gorda Conservation Committee, Rising Sun Women’s Group, Toledo Bee Keepers and
Farmers Cooperative, Toledo Cacoa Growers Association, Toledo Ecotourism Association,
Toledo Grain Growers Association. These organizations are operating across a broad front to
promote development throughout the district through people empowerment.

The Southern Highway Rehabilitation project will open up the Toledo District to increased
economic activity by creating improved road accessibility. Concurrent with this program is the
formation of the Southern Development Project, which will assist communities in the south in
agricultural improvement and income diversification. The Community Initiated Agriculture and
Resource management Project for Southern Belize will spend $1.9 million while the Agricultural
Health Service will spend $4.2 million in FY 2000-2001.


3.52   STAKEHOLDER MAP


3.53   IDENTIFIED THREATS FOR THE CONSOLIDATION OF THE PRIORITY AREA

Deep River is one of the least troubled of the protected areas, however there is a need for
action on the following fronts to consolidate this important corridor route. This is especially
important since this reserve falls into the “paper Reserve” category a term used to describe a
protected area that exist on paper only but lacking a management presence.
  - Increase management presence to cut down on the illegal hunting and fishing known to
      be taking place
  - Institute management plans and sound monitoring before undertaking any timber
      extraction activity within the reserve,


                                              45
  -    Confirm the boundaries of the reserve, which has been uncertain since the unofficial
       excision of several parcels for private use.


3.54    ENVIRONMENTAL OPPORTUNITIES FOR THE CONSOLIDATION OF THE MBC

The Deep River Forest reserve is the major link (at least in the statutory sense) from the Maya
Mountains to the Port of Honduras Marine Reserve. The mangrove environments of the area
provide the vital link between the terrestrial and marine environments, which also serves as
siltation filters, and an important source of organic matter for coastal communities. Additionally,
the reserve is expected to support a great diversity of specie as would be indicated by its varied
ecosystems.

Until recently the area had seen little human impact and should be able to recover from recent
impacts given proper management, since it’s habitats remain intact. This affords a golden
opportunity to institute sustainable management practices at the outset. The area is seen as a
vital link in the corridors network and enjoys the support of all conservation and natural resource
management organizations in this role.


3.55    SELECTION OF PILOT OR WORK SITES AND KEY ORGANIZATIONS TO
        PROMOTE THE PARTICIPATIVE MONITORING OF THE CONSOLIDATION OF THE
        MBC


3.56    IDENTIFYING INFORMATION GAPS AND THE                      NEEDS      ASSESSMENT        TO
        ESTABLISH LOCAL THEMATIC STRATEGIES

The following gaps are identified in regards to the overall management of this reserve:
  - Specific biological and physical information relating to this reserve is for the most part
      non-existent,
  - The area of this reserve is uncertain, an official realigning of the reserve boundary is long
      overdue,
  - Present management capabilities preclude frequent patrolling to control illegal hunting an
      important concern for any biological linkage area.
  - No data on the impacts of wildfires (which are frequent in the reserve) on the vegetation
      communities and wildlife populations.

3.57    CONCLUSIONS AND RECOMMENDATIONS

  -    This site badly needs a management plan, an exercise which was promoted within the
       framework of the Maya Mountain Marine Area Transect,
  -    Management presence needs to be boosted in view of current hunting pressure and
       agricultural encroachments,
  -    Once the reserve’s boundary is realigned to excise agricultural settlements it should
       remain fixed and non-negotiable to further acts of incursion,
  -    Need to promote long term studies under well defined guidelines (policies) concentrating
       initially on characterization and later on monitoring,
  -    Need to promote community involvement and inputs into the running of the park.




                                                46
3.6     THE PAYNE’S CREEK NATIONAL PARK

3.6.1   Description

The Payne’s Creek National Park was originally designated on the premise that the area would
protect various wetland habitats and the unique physiographic features formed from an
extensive sequence of storm-built coastal ridges. The reserve was declared in May 1994, under
the instigation of the Forest Planning and Management Project and in the accompanying SI was
ascribed an area of 11,906 ha. , However GIS calculations gives a larger area of 12,819 ha.
The area is managed by The Belize Forest Department whose management is now being
guided by a recently produced management plan. This reserve is a central pillar of the Maya
Mountain Marine Area Transect, an area that is being promoted as the corridor linkage with the
greatest potential for the conservation of biological diversity in southern Belize.


3.6.2   Delineation of Payne’s Creek National Park.

Payne’s Creek National Park falls into the Gulf of Honduras Priority Area. The Gulf of Honduras
Priority Area includes Payne’s Creek National Park, Deep River Forest Reserve, Bladen Nature
Reserve, the Cockscomb Wildlife Sanctuary, the Maya Mountain Forest Reserve, Port
Honduras Marine Reserve and the Sarstoon Temash National Park and Rio Blanco National
Parks. This priority area interfaces with Guatemalan and Honduran conservation initiatives at
the boundaries of their respective territories.

3.6.3   Geographic Description:

The Paynes Creek National Park is located in the Northeastern corner of the Toledo District, the
most southerly district of Belize. The reserve is centered on latitude 88035 W and longitude
16020N. Paynes Creek lies entirely on coastal flatlands whose altitude does not exceed 30 ft
above sea level (asl). . The greater part of the reserve falls into the Holdrige Subtropical Wet
Region with a tiny section on the eastern side falling into the Tropical Moist life zone. The
zoogeographical affinities of the site are unknown, although they are suspected to have
Honduran affinities. Rainfall averages about 2500 cm per annum. There are no major river
systems draining the area and therefore water has accumulated to form large wetlands that are
important for wading birds and other wetland species. Payne’s Creek drainage system is
seasonally flooded but is liable to become quite low and stagnant in the dry season. The
reserve contains the Punta Ycacos Lagoon, which covers an area of about 52 km2 and tidally
experiences large ingression of sea water creating a brackish environment that favors the
growth of mangroves, which themselves cover an area of about 22 km2 . The lagoon contains
extensive areas of mud flats with less than a meter cover of water, mangrove islands and
channels. The area contains the most extensive system of storm ridges in Belize and also the
largest expanse of coastal habitat that does not include mangroves. The surrounding pine
savannah soils are leached an acidic whereas in the swamp forest region they are waterlogged
with a peaty surface layer.

3.6.4   Towns and villages present:

The population centers around the reserve presents a mixed picture with some experiencing
rapid population growth (which cannot be accounted for simply by natural increase) while others
are in decline. The only town in the district is Punta Gorda (pop. 4,329), which is located about
18 km from the Payne’s Creek National Park. Other settlements within daily communication


                                               47
distance include Placentia, Monkey River, Punta Negra, and New Haven. All told the population
of these villages have seen a rapid increase between 1990 and 2000. Punta Negra’s population
has expanded from 32 to 154 a 381% increase whereas Placentia has seen a population
increase of 39%. The population of Monkey River, once a town, is on a downward trend falling
from 190 in the 1990 census to 170 in the 2000 census. Another small community in the area is
New Haven, which had a population of 20 in 1990 and is reputed to be the best deep water
harbor south of Placentia.

3.6.5   Bi-and tri-national linkages:

The National Protected Areas Systems Plan had identified the Deep River/ Paynes Creek area
as a potential dispersal corridor. This idea was further promoted through the Maya Mountain
Marine Area Transect, which established the area as an integral part of a larger area extending
from the Maya Mountains to the Port of Honduras. As an area within a larger corridor region
(Gulf of Honduras Priority Area) this reserve would be linked to the marine areas of Guatemala
and Honduras thereby creating a tri-national linkage complex.

3.6.6   Identification of priority areas declared or proposed:

At this stage in the process, only 2 priority areas have been declared for Belize. They are the
Gulf of Honduras, which has been previously described, and the Selva Maya, which
approximates the western half of the country. In addition there are various corridor routes,
established or proposed that fall into these priority areas and other regions not currently
included in any priority area.

3.6.7   Identification of corridor modalities:

The habitat range for this protected area is broad given its interface with inland terrestrial and
marine habitats. Habitats identified include hyper saline, brackish lagoon, estuarine, mangrove,
broadleaf forest and savannah. These features are congruent to those prevailing in the
adjacent coastal areas, neighboring reserves and public and private lands. In addition there are
areas of citrus and banana plantations outside the reserve as well as smallholder plots.

3.6.8   Summary of issues

3.6.9   Environmental Issues:

The Payne’s Creek National Park is essentially a watershed management area laden with
important wetland habitats. Wetland habitats contain important species of conservation
concern, which are in turn dependent upon the mangrove communities.

The Payne’s Creek National Park offers a variety of services to forest and water users. There is
hunting (illegal) on the savannah for White Tail (odocoileus virginianus truei) and Red Brocket
Deer (Mazama Americana), other common wildlife species are hunted in the high forest. The
lagoon is used for commercial fishing and is well stocked with popular game fish such as
Tarpon, Jewfish, Black Snapper, Lane Snapper and Permit. There are occasional concessions
given out for logging of pine on the savannah and some ecotourism tours are taking their groups
for nature walks within the park.

   Flora. The vegetation map developed by Brokaw and Iremonger distinguishes 6 vegetation
   types within the Paynes Creek National Park. These vegetation types are:


                                                 48
          Coastal beach sand scrub
          Dwarf mangrove scrub
          Lowland broadleaf rainforest
          Low needle leaf moist open forest on poor soil
          Seasonal water-logged shrublands of the plain
          Swamp forest

       The lowland broadleaf forest are found in the north along the Monkey River and it is
       believed that most of this area is of secondary re-growth. The majority of the remaining
       area is taken up by low needle leaf moist and seasonally water-logged fire induced
       shrublands. There are significant stands of mangroves in the Punta Ycacos Lagoon
       along the boundary with Deep River Forest Reserve. There are also small patches of
       sea grapes, coco plum, coconut and cashew along the beachfront bordering on private
       properties.

       Fauna. The species list for the Payne’s Creek National Park as for many of the other
       protected areas must be viewed as provisional until further information becomes
       available. The documented records show that 124 species have been identified. The
       listing contains species of conservation concern such as Black Howler Monkeys
       (Alouatta pigra), Jaguars (Panthera onca), and American and Morelet's crocodiles
       (Crocodylus acutus and crocodylus moreleti), West Indian Manatees (Trichechus
       manatus) and fresh water turtles (Dermatemys mawei). Additionally the park contains
       White Tail (odocoileus virginianus truei) and Brocket Deer (Mazama Americana) and
       Armadillos (Dasypus novemcinctus mexicanus), which are frequently hunted by
       residents of the surrounding communities. The reserve also contains important manatee
       breeding grounds and nesting sites for Ibises and the Hawksbill Turtle (Eretmochelys
       imbricata). Wading birds are common in the wetlands area.

3.61   Socioeconomic Issues

The Toledo District is the most southerly and the least developed area of Belize. Although it
has the third largest surface area (4,413 sq. km.) of the 6 districts of Belize it has the lowest
population accounting for only 9% of the total population of the country. These figures should
not disguise the fact that this district is also experiencing rapid population increase both as a
result of high immigration rates from Guatemala (mostly ethnic Maya) and Honduras (Mestizo).
Other prominent demographic factors prevailing throughout Belize namely high birth rate, low
infant mortality and an increase in life expectancy also influence this increase. While the
national population between 1990 and 2000 grew by 26.8 % (from 189,392 to 240,204) the
population of the Toledo District grew by 33.6% (from 17,439 to 23,297), a figure significantly
higher than the national average. The nearest urban center is Punta Gorda Town which
account for the only urban center in the district.
Other indices show unfavorable human development indicators. The district has the country’s
highest infant mortality rate (51 per 1000 compared to 23 per1000 in Belize District the country’s
lowest) the lowest rate of access to potable water supply (41% against 81% for the Orange
Walk district the nations highest) and the lowest literacy levels (58.9% compared to Belize
District’s 91.9% the nations highest).

       The local Communities –The Payne’s Creek National Park buffer area is not heavily
       populated. Additionally, there are movements a foot within the communities to diversify
       their economic base in a manner that enhances the long term prospects for this park and



                                               49
       the neighboring Deep River Forest Reserve. The population of the communities most
       likely to have a direct impact on this park amount to just a little over 1000 persons. The
       main villages are:

       Monkey River – is located adjacent to the park and played a pivotal role in its formation.
       The village had a population in the 2000 census of 170 persons, which is a 10.5 percent
       decline against its 1990 population of 190. This population decline has alarmed the
       village leaders and prompted them into action to arrest the decline. The strategy was to
       investigate economic development alternatives since it was believed that lack of
       economic opportunities was the root cause of the demographic decline. The discussion
       soon turned to establishing a protected land base with an accompanying program for
       locally based tourism ventures. This led to the establishment of a “Special Development
       Area” which constituted about 60% of the present day park.
       Since then Monkey River has tried to progress beyond it’s subsistence agriculture and
       fishing base, however the progress has been slow. Major impediments are:
       1) Poor road access,
       2) Inadequate housing and sanitary facilities,
       3) Lack of a marketing program to highlight the attractions and advantages of Monkey
            River.

       Punta Negra – Is a small fishing community located on the mainland next to the park. It
       is the only permanent settlement on the mainland coast along the boundaries of the
       reserve. This village, unlike Monkey River has a rapidly expanding population which
       grew from 32 persons in 1990 to 154 in the 2000 census a whopping 381.3 % increase
       in 10 years. Such growth will have impacts on the reserve as the community increases
       its use of resources.

       New Haven – is an isolated hamlet without an established community structure that has
       served as a boat mooring area and is reputed to have one of the best deep water
       harbors in the south.

       Placencia – Although located a good distance from the reserve, is nevertheless within
       daily communication reach. Located on Placencia Peninsula at the Southern tip of the
       Stann Creek District, Placencia is one of Belize’s most popular resort. The population of
       the village in the 2000 census registered 501 persons a 38.8 % increase over the
       previous 1990 census. Its impact on the Payne’s Creek National Park can be attributed
       to the practice of its guides to take visitors into the park for ecotourism trips.

3.62   Institutional:

There are several conservation and development organizations active in the area as well as the
usual government agencies.

The NGO and civil society organizations are represented by the Protected Areas Conservation
Trust (PACT), Toledo Institute for Development and the Environment (TIDE), Southern Alliance
for Grassroots Empowerment (SAGE), Environmental & Social Technical Assistance Project,
Golden Stream Corridor preserve, Plenty International, Punta Gorda conservation Committee,
Rising Sun Women’s Group, Toledo Bee Keepers and Farmers Cooperative, Toledo Cacoa
Growers Association, Toledo Ecotourism Association, Toledo Grain Growers Association.
These organizations are operating across a broad front to promote development throughout the
district through people empowerment. In addition all communities except New Haven have


                                               50
village councils and there is a Payne’s Creek National Park Group operating out of Punta
Negra.

The Southern Highway Rehabilitation project will open up the Toledo District to increased
economic activity by creating improved road accessibility. Concurrent with this program is the
formation of the Southern Development Project, which will assist communities in the south in
agricultural improvement and income diversification. The Community Initiated Agriculture and
Resource management Project for Southern Belize will spend $1.9 million while the Agricultural
Health Service will spend $4.2 million in FY 2000-2001.


3.63   STAKEHOLDER MAP


3.64   IDENTIFIED THREATS FOR THE CONSOLIDATION OF THE PRIORITY AREA

In his analysis on the various intensity of park management Zisman in his “Directory of Belizean
Protected Areas an Sites of Nature Conservation Interest” (Zisman, 1996) identified the Payne’s
Creek National Park as having no significant management. This lack of management presence
on the ground and in the surrounding coastal areas is the underlying cause of the problems
identified at the site. Specific problems are:
   - Over fishing with nets,
   - Unregulated sports fishing in Punta Ycacos Lagoon,
   -    Manatee hunting,
   - Illegal logging,
   - Unregulated burning of the pine savannah by hunters,
   - High hunting pressure in inland areas for common game species,
   - Need to regulate ecotourism trips to ensure that they do not interfere with the nesting
       sites of birds and turtles.


3.65 ENVIRONMENTAL OPPORTUNITIES FOR THE CONSOLIDATION OF THE MBC

Considering the consortium of conservation interest at work in promoting the Paynes Creek
National Park and it’s relatively pristine habitats, it is reasonable to say that the prospects for
this park are good. The Park is a major link between the Maya Mountains and the Port of
Honduras cited by many authorities (Wilson, 1995; Miller 1995; Cayetano, 1996) as a main
southern corridor linkage. A promising avenue being pursued is the solicitation of community
involvement in the running and management of the park. To that end the Forest Department
and a consortium of NGO groups have produced a management plan defining the forward
vision of the park. This plan promotes the Payne’s Creek National Park as part of a larger
region of unparalleled biological importance to Belize and conducive to the exigencies of
promoting the biological corridors. Important environmental opportunities are:
   - Area is rich in undisturbed biological habitats important to wetlands and marine species
      including a significant number under CITES listing,
   - Park is directly connected to other protected areas and to a community based managed
      area that promote sustainable principles of land management,
   - Park covers a substantial portion of the Payne’s Creek watershed which protects fragile
      soils and the Port of Honduras marine habitats,
   - Area is an important stop over for migratory birds including endangered nearctic and
      neotropical species.


                                                51
The Payne Creek National Park is a major link from the Maya Mountains to the coastal areas of
the Port of Honduras. The mangrove communities of the area provide the vital link between the
terrestrial and marine ecosystems, which serves as siltation filters, and an important source of
organic material for coastal life forms. Additionally the area supports a great diversity of species
as would be indicated by its varied ecosystems many of which are listed as endangered. This
area has seen little human impacts and is liable to remain so for the foreseeable future given its
remoteness from population centers. This affords a golden opportunity to institute sustainable
management practices at the outset. Last but not least, the area is seen as a vital link in the
corridors network and enjoys the support of all conservation and natural resource management
organization.

3.66   SELECTION OF PILOT OR WORK SITES AND KEY ORGANIZATIONS TO
       PROMOTE THE PARTICIPATIVE MONITORING OF THE CONSOLIDATION OF THE
       MBC


3.67   IDENTIFYING INFORMATION GAPS AND THE                        NEEDS      ASSESSMENT        TO
       ESTABLISH LOCAL THEMATIC STRATEGIES

The following are the identified gaps associated with this park;
  - The reserve needs a more comprehensive characterization from the physical and
      biological perspective,
  - Need for monitoring of the marine and freshwater habitats especially as they relate to
      water quality and population dynamics.


3.68   CONCLUSIONS AND RECOMMENDATIONS

The recently prepared management plan is good indication that the management of this park is
being taken seriously. In addition local community conservation groups in Monkey River and
Punta Negra, indicate strong community participation and a favorable disposition towards the
management objectives of this protected area. This good community participation however,
must be complemented by an adequate management presence to stem the incursions from
further afield, including those of foreign origination.




                                                52
3.7      The PORT HONDURAS MARINE RESERVE


3.7.1 Description.

The Port Honduras Marine Reserve is the most recent addition to the protected areas system
although various groups had advocated its inclusion over the years. The process took a
decisive turn with the critical habitat survey conducted by the Belize Center for Environmental
Studies in 1990 and compounded with the introduction of the management plan in June 1998.
This seminal study gave a vivid description of a unique ecosystem that serves important
ecological functions with wide implications for the region. The strategic justification for including
this area within the biological corridors network was articulated quite clearly in the Maya
Mountain Marine Areas Transect proposal put forward in 1995 (Belize Center for Environmental
Study). Further support came in the National Protected Areas Systems Plan for Belize in which
Wilson (1995) identified the area as a gap within the system. The present justification of the
reserve apart from the above mentioned reasons lies in its importance as an area of significant
fisheries, mangrove communities, birds, manatees, sea turtles and reef.
The Port Honduras Marine Reserve now has a management plan and an advisory committee in
place. In addition significant funding has been allocated to its monitoring and protection. The
challenge is now to put the provisions of the management plan into practice and work with
neighboring stakeholders to develop sustainable management regimes on their property.


3.7.2    Delineation of Port Honduras Marine Reserve.

The general boundaries of the Port Honduras Marine Reserve runs from the mouth of the Rio
Grande in the South to the Mouth of Monkey River in the north, the Snake Cayes in the east
and the coastal wetlands in the west. The specific coordinates of the boundaries are as follows:
Commencing at point A east of Monkey River Village having scaled UTM coordinates 341,784
East 1,810,803 north; thence in a general easterly direction to a point B having scaled UTM
coordinates 342,573 East 1,810,803 North; thence in a general southerly direction to a point C
having scaled UTM coordinates341, 784 East 1,791,754 North; thence in a general south-
westerly direction to a point D having scaled UTM coordinates 328,384 East 1,784,002 North;
thence in a westerly direction to a point E south of the Rio Grande River Mouth having scaled
UTM coordinates 310,122 East 1,783,740 North; thence in the direction of the coastline contour
back to the point of commencement.


3.7.3    Geographic Description:

Port Honduras can be divided into several functional units. These are:

  -     The Coastal Inter-tidal Mangroves- These mangroves are mostly found at the mouths of
        rivers and are mostly red mangroves (Rhizophora mangle). Further back are found the
        scrub mangroves, which inhabit large pounded basins and play a vital role in filtering
        upstream erosional products and release organic matter brought down through the
        watershed, which is necessary for high coastal productivity.

  -     The Lagoon Waters including the Inner Cayes- There are over 130 mangrove cayes in the
        Port Honduras area, which appears to offer protection to the estuarine area allowing a
        gradual gradation from the fresh to the salt water.


                                                 53
  -     The Offshore banks - are benthos environment within the lagoons that are covered with
        mud, patch reefs or sea grass.

  -     The Port Honduras has a series of drop-offs that proceed seaward to a channel 25-30
        meters in depth running between Port Honduras and the southern barrier reef at Sapodilla
        Caye. Two parallel lines of shallow banks, 1-2 meters deep, and mangrove islands occur
        in mid and outer Port Honduras, breaking the deep areas of the embayment into restricted
        basin. The Snake Cayes are outside the Port Honduras area in the deep offshore
        channels. Most of the Port Honduras Area is deeper than 5 meters and maintains salt
        gradient in the water due the presence of shallow banks, which prevent vertical mixing.

3.7.4    Towns and villages present:

There are approximately 4,500 persons living along coastal areas in Southern Belize whose
activity bears a direct or indirect impact on the Port Honduras area. Punta Gorda Town located
near the southern boundary of the reserve is the largest population center and the only town in
the Toledo District. Other important communities are Placencia, Monkey River, and Punta
Negra. In addition there are temporary camps set up on the main cayes by fishermen. These
communities use the Port Honduras area for commercial fishing, recreation, and as an area for
ecotourism trips. The chief impact of these communities are as users of marine resources
(mostly fish) and as polluters of the watershed areas which can impact the Port Honduras area.

3.7.5    Bi-and tri-national linkages:

The Port Honduras Marine Reserve is the last link in the southern biological corridors system
linking Belize with Guatemala and Honduras. As such it protects important migratory routes for
coastal marine creatures and birds as well as contribute to the general health and productive
capacities of the marine system. This is accomplished through its mangrove filtering system
and it’s supply of organic materials that flow into the area by way of the river, draining the
adjacent watersheds.

3.7.6            Identification of priority areas declared or proposed:

The Port Honduras Marine Reserve is located within the Gulf of Honduras Priority Area, which
along with the Selva Maya are the only 2 priority areas currently identified for Belize. The Gulf
of Honduras Priority Area also includes Payne Creek National Park and the Deep River Forest
Reserve as well as the other protected and proposed protected areas lying off the coastal areas
of southern Belize.

3.7.7    Identification of corridor modalities:

The Port Honduras Marine Reserve contains important coastal mangrove areas, which serve as
course filters preventing sediments from reaching the sea. In addition there are mangrove
clusters on the cayes, which serve as wind buffers preserving a gradual gradient between the
marine and estuarine habitats salt level. Finally, there is a shallow marine bay area with mud
bottoms, sea grass beds, sand and shingle cayes, and coral reefs.


3.7.8    Summary of issues

3.7.9    Environmental Issues:


                                                  54
The Port Honduras region was identified as an important area for the conservation of
biodiversity from as early as 1990. In that year a Critical Habitats Study confirmed the
conservation value of this area and gave birth to a movement to have this entire area plus the
neighboring terrestrial reserves designated as a biological corridor from the Maya Mountain to
the sea. Two Rapid Ecological Assessments conducted in the ensuing period further confirmed
earlier claims on the unique morphology and biodiversity of the area. The main importance of
the site and the one on which its productivity and biodiversity depends is it’s capacity to
maintain the turbid water gradient generated from run-offs to the coastal basin thus producing
the proper environment for coral growth offshore. The six major river systems feeding into Port
Honduras drain an extensive watershed area and provide the nutrients for the prolific local
fisheries.

       Flora. The predominant vegetation type in the Port Honduras is mangroves. These
       mangroves are found on the coastal regions and the 130 + islands that dot the reserve.
       Most of these mangrove communities are in over washed stands without firm
       consolidated soil structure. Littoral vegetation is found in isolated patches between
       Deep River and Golden Stream and in a stretch running from Monkey River to Punta
       Ycacos Lagoon.

       Fauna. No structured study has been done to determine the fauna diversity in the Port
       Honduras area. In the absence of any definitive study, the second best approach is to
       extrapolate from data received from nearby areas with similar habitats. In the nearby
       Punta Ycacos area 17 species of crustaceans representing 11 genera and 7 families of
       the Order Decapota were identified.

       A disturbing, and frequent occurrence is the slaughtering of manatees within the reserve.
       Since a tally has been kept more than 30 manatee carcasses have been found and 11
       slaughtering sites located. It is believed that these animals were slaughtered by
       fishermen from the neighboring republics who frequent Belizean Waters (illegally) and
       who cater to strong demand in their home markets.

       Fish – Using trawl and channel nets as capturing methods more than 70 species of fish
       have been identified within the Port Honduras Marine Reserve. Of this number 40
       species had known commercial value and were either preferred or occasionally used.
       The most popular fish taken are snapper (Lutjanidae), grunt (Haemulidae), parrotfish
       (Scaridae), and mojarra (Gerreidae). Other fishes netted but are not generally
       consumed are anchovies (Engraulidae), pipefishes (Synhnathidae), filefishes
       (Sciaenidae), small wrasses (Labridae), gobies (Gobiidae), and puffers (Tetraodontidae).

The studies also show that the most economically important fishery is lobster of which about
50,000 lbs are taken each year at a value of Bz $900,000. Other important commercial species
in terms of volume taken are lane snapper, mackarel and jack. Other important species
harvested in lower volumes are barracuda, snook and jewfish.

The species composition data compares favorably with other sites within the region. It is known
that the juveniles of many species of smaller fish move upstream and shelter in the nearby
rivers during the day and go out into the sea at night to feed on zooplankton.

Anecdotal evidence suggests that there has been a general decline in the commercial fisheries
over the last decade. The blame for this decline is generally attributed to the widespread illegal


                                               55
   fishing by foreign aliens who are hard press to provide for their large markets from dwindling
   national stocks. Of urgent concern is their practice of taking manatees and sea turtles both of
   which are listed on international endangered species list.


   Avifauna – Many bird rookeries have been spotted within the reserve including pelicans, frigate
   birds, cormorants and anhinga. Nesting sites of frigates, herons, pelicans and brown boobies
   are common throughout the area

3.71       Socioeconomic Issue:

The Toledo district is the most southerly and the least developed area of Belize. Although it has the
third largest surface area (1,704) of the 6 districts of Belize it has the lowest population accounting
for only 9% of the total population of the country. These figures should not disguise the fact that
this district is also experiencing rapid population increase both as a result of high immigration rates
from Guatemala (mostly ethnic Maya) and Honduras (Mestizo). While the national population
between 1990 and 2000 grew by 26.8 % (from 189,392 to 240,204) the population of the Toledo
District grew by 33.6% (from 17,439 to 23,297), a figure significantly higher than the national
average. The nearest urban center is Punta Gorda Town and accounts for the only urban center in
the district. Other indices show that the district has the country’s highest infant mortality rate (51 per
1000 compared to 23 per1000 in Belize District the country’s lowest) the lowest rate of access to
potable water supply (41% against 81% for the Orange Walk district the nations highest) and the
lowest literacy levels (58.9% compared to Belize District’s 91.9% the nations highest).

Since there are no permanent settlement in Port Honduras and since the local population is small
the discussion must dwell on the surrounding structures mainly economic that impact Port
Honduras and the resource users some of which come from very far afield

           Land Tenure – The coastal land area of the watersheds abutting Port Honduras is
           approximately 270 km sq. Of this amount 50% of the area is under protective status,
           25% are in private properties, 13% is national lands, 6% is claimed in lease holdings and
           the tenure status of the remaining 6% is unknown. Most of the 138 cayes within Port
           Honduras are national lands.

           Agriculture - The protected lands bordering Port Honduras are Deep River Forest
           Reserve and Payne’s Creek National Park, which should give good protection to the 2
           important watersheds located within their boundaries. Of the remaining 4 watersheds
           directly impacting the Port Honduras 2 (Golden Stream and Middle River) have
           experienced minimal human impacts and are in relatively pristine condition even though
           most of this land is in private holdings. The Monkey River and Rio Grande is the largest
           (1,292 km2) and second largest (728 km2) watershed impacting the Port Honduras and
           also the most vulnerable in terms of their potential to produce long term negative
           environmental impacts.

           The Swasey and Bladen tributaries of the Monkey River watershed support upwards of
           75% 0f the banana plantations in Belize. These plantations use substantial amounts of
           agrochemicals within their productive systems and are also in the habit of clearing right
           down to the stream’s edge greatly increasing the rate of erosion and the filtering capacity
           of the stream to avoid run-off. Additionally a Tilapia Farm that was established on the
           Swasey Branch is believed to have inadvertently released tilapia into the surrounding



                                                     56
       waterways drastically affecting the native fish population and subsequently migrating into
       all the inland water systems of Belize.

       The upper reaches of the Rio Grande watershed support a vast expanse of Maya Milpa
       agriculture. Although use of agrochemicals is limited the deforestation has affected the
       fragile upper soil horizon-causing run-off into the river as evidenced by the discoloration
       of the waters in the rainy season.

       Tourism – Although in its infancy tourism is becoming an important new activity in the
       Port Honduras. This industry is centered in the high biodiversity areas, which are also
       the most critical areas for biological conservation. The main concentration of this activity
       is the Deep River Estuary, Paynes Creek National Park, and the Punta Ycacos Lagoon.
       The center of tourism in the area is Placencia the hub from which tours travel to Monkey
       River (an area of abundant riverine wildlife), Punta Ycacos Lagoon, and the surrounding
       cayes for day trips. If this promising industry is to be sustained over the long run
       measures will have to be taken to minimize impacts on these sensitive sites.

       Fishing – The Port Honduras area has been traditional fishing grounds for the residents
       of Monkey River, Punta Negra, Punta Gorda and other communities. Most activity
       concentrates on taking lobster and finfish albeit on a small scale. The most lucrative
       fishery is lobster, which brings in revenues of around $900,000 to local fishermen. Other
       important species taken are lane snapper (95,000 lbs) jack and mackerel (150,000 lbs).
       Fishermen from Guatemala and Honduras are frequent visitors to the Port Honduras
       fishing grounds where they have a reputation of taking undersized catch and more
       seriously engage in the wholesale slaughter of turtles and manatees. These fishermen
       cater to a coastal population of approx.130, 000 persons, a huge population considering
       the limited size of the resource.

3.72   Institutional:

There are several conservation and special interest groups operating within the Toledo District
whose activities will impact the Port Honduras Marine Reserve. These are in addition to the
normal government agencies such as the Forest Department, Fisheries Department, Police and
the Belize Defense Force. Additionally NGO and civil society organizations such as Protected
Areas Conservation Trust (PACT), Toledo Institute for Development and the Environment
(TIDE), Southern Alliance for Grassroots Empowerment (SAGE), Aqua Caliente Management
Team, Aquacate Farmers Co-op, Belize Indigenous Training Institute, Environmental & Social
Technical Assistance Project, Golden Stream Corridor preserve, Plenty International, Punta
Gorda conservation Committee, Toledo Bee Keepers and Farmers Cooperative, Toledo Cacoa
Growers Association, Toledo Ecotourism Association, Toledo Grain Growers Association.
These organizations are operating across a broad front to promote development throughout the
district through people empowerment. The Southern Highway Rehabilitation project will open up
the Toledo district to increased economic activity by creating improved road accessibility.
Concurrent with this program is the formation of the Southern Development Project, which will
assist communities in the south in agricultural improvement and income diversification. The
Community Initiated Agriculture and Resource management Project for Southern Belize will
spend $1.9 million while the Agricultural Health Service will spend $4.2 million in FY 2000-2001.

Off all the organizations which have played a role in the formation and running of the reserve,
the Toledo Institute for Development and the Environment has been the most prominent. This
organization picked up the reins where the now defunct Belize Center for Environmental Studies


                                               57
left off. The recently produced management plan has been their effort. In addition this group
has been the driving force behind community mobilization for the reserve community networking
to curb illegal activities within the reserve, as well as the procurement of funds for its
management. This effort has come under the aegis of the Fisheries Department, which has
overall responsibility for the running of all marine reserves in the country.


3.73   STAKEHOLDER MAP


3.74   IDENTIFIED THREATS FOR THE CONSOLIDATION OF THE PRIORITY AREA

In spite of being a located in a relatively low population area, there are combinations of direct
human and human induced threats that can compromise the long-term viability of the Port
Honduras Marine Reserve. Major problems identified in consultative meetings with community
and stakeholder groups are:

Fishing- current fishing levels are unsustainable in terms of the regenerative capacity of the
reserve.    While local subsistence and low level commercial exploitation are probably
sustainable, continuous illegal penetration of the area is not. It is the belief of local fishermen
that the apparent depletion in fishing stock in Port Honduras is the result of fishing pressure and
nondescript practices of fishermen from across the border.

Tourism – Much of the tourism in Port Honduras and its buffer areas occur in areas of high
biological diversity and critical habitats. To protect these fragile ecosystems from over use it will
be necessary to regulate these activities and perhaps restrict these activities to wildlife
observation and catch and release fishing.

Monkey River Watershed – The upper reaches of this watershed support massive acreages of
banana plantations that cater to the foreign market. Without exposure to and enforcement of
the laws protecting watershed areas from felling down to the watermark further erosion will take
place putting the Port Honduras marine ecosystems in danger. The industry practice of using
large quantities of fertilizer and pesticides to bulk up production needs to be addressed. Fears
of downstream toxicity in the water supply have already caused Monkey River Village Residents
to turn to other sources for drinking water supply.

Private lands – Although almost all in pristine order and presently conducive to maintaining a
productive marine environment still leaves room for concern. With the refurbishment of the
Southern Highway land use in the area may change to favor development. The need exist to
establish a land use planning scheme to that will focus on land use that are compatible with the
Port Honduras ecosystem. This will involve consultations with the local landowners and the
Lands and Surveys Department.


3.75   ENVIRONMENTAL OPPORTUNITIES FOR THE CONSOLIDATION OF THE MBC

The Port Honduras and the bordering protected areas as well as the private land holding are in
relatively pristine conditions and hence prime candidates for inclusion into the biological
corridors network. Salient features promoting this area as an integral corridor route are:
   - Solid protected areas status for an unbroken stretch of natural areas reaching from the
       Maya Mountains to the sea,


                                                 58
  -    A conducive local environment to enlist the support of local stakeholders including private
       landowners, in promoting sustainable use principles on surrounding lands,
  -    Although the reserve may now suffer from depleted stock in certain marine species it
       retains it’s pristine condition and therefore if the current high level of fishing activity is
       brought under control the area should be able to recuperate without outside intervention.
  -    The high biodiversity of the area will also give it a high tourism value, which will translate
       into economic opportunities for local residents, hence an additional conservation incentive
       to recruit local support.


3.76 SELECTION OF PILOT OR WORK SITES AND KEY ORGANIZATIONS TO PROMOTE
     THE PARTICIPATIVE MONITORING OF THE CONSOLIDATION OF THE MBC


3.7.I IDENTIFYING INFORMATION GAPS AND                      THE     NEEDS     ASSESSMENT         TO
      ESTABLISH LOCAL THEMATIC STRATEGIES

This Marine protected area is provided with a current and comprehensive management plan,
which addresses the most urgent management issues. No gaps identified.

3.78    CONCLUSIONS AND RECOMMENDATIONS

The identified threats to this reserve must be tackled head on and urgently before permanent
damage is done to this vibrant but fragile ecosystem. The current community support must be
capitalized upon and steps taken to stem the tide of illegal foreign incursion into the reserve.




                                                 59
                                        ANNEX A


                                       REFERENCES


ANDA, 2000. Development Directory, Belize 2001.

Baillie, I. C., A. C. S. Wright, M. A. Holder, E. A. Fitzpatrick, 1993. Revised Classification
of the Soils of Belize. NRI Bulletin 59. Chatham, U. K. Natural Resources Institute.

Belize Audubon Society, 1997. Cockscomb Basin Wildlife Sanctuary, Management Plan.

Belize Audubon Society, 2000.          Indigenous Women in Local Governance and
Environmental Protection.

Belize Coastal Zone Management Project, 1995. State of the Coastal zone Report.

Bijleveld C. F. A., 1998. The Vegetation of Shipstern Nature Preserve.

Bird, N. M., 1993. The Forest of Northern Columbia River Forest Reserve, NARMAP
Internal Report Series Volume 4.

Botnick, C., J. Buff, L. Congdon, J. Manternach, L. Montes de Oca, J. Rennicks, 2000.
Examining the Belize Audubon Society’s Management of Protected Areas.

Brokaw, N. V. L., S. Iremonger, 1994.   Vegetation Classification and Mapping
Methodology as a Basis for Gap Analysis of Protected Area Coverage in Belize.
Appendix 1; in NARMAP 1995.
Castaneda, A. 1996. The Belize Country Feasibility Study on the Mesoamerican
Biological Corridors Project.

Castaneda, A. 1996. The Belize National Report on the Mesoamerican Biological Corridor
Project.

Castaneda, A. 1996. The Belize National Report on the Mesoamerican Biological Corridor
Project (Volume 1, Annexes to Proposals).

Central Statistical Office, 1999. Environmental Statistics for Belize.

ESTAP, 2000. Community Profiles.

ESTAP, 2000. Regional Development Plan for Southern Belize.

Forest Department, 1998. Bladen Nature Reserve Management Plan.

GOB, 2000. Medium Term Economic Strategy Paper 2000-2002



                                             60
GoB, 2000. National Population and Housing Census 2000 Population Count. Report No.
1

GoB, 2000. National Poverty Elimination Strategy and Action Plan 1998- 2003

Heyman, W., W. Maheia, S. Franklin, L. Nicolait, 1995. Maya Mountain Marine Area
Transect: A Synthesis to Assist in Integrated Planning and Management. Belize Center
for Environmental Studies, Belize, 1995. Maya Mountain Marine Area Transect: A
Synthesis to Assist in Integrated Planning and Management.        Belize Center for
Environmental Studies, Belize.

King, R. B., I. C. Baillie, T. M. B. Abel, J. R. Dunsmore, D. A. Gray, J. H. Pratt, H. R. Versey,
A. C. S. Wright and S. A. Zisman, 1992. Land Resource Assessment of Northern Belize.
Chatham, UK. Natural Resources Institute.

King, R. B., J. H. Pratt, M. P. Warner and S. A. Zisman, 1993. Agriculture Development
Prospects in Belize. NRI Bulletin 48, Chatham, UK: National Resources Institute.

Literacy Council of Belize and Central Statistical Office, 1997. 1996 National Literacy
Survey.

Miller, B. W., C. M. Miller, 1995.     National Protected Areas Systems Plan for Belize,
Volume 3 Zoological Report.

Ministry of Natural Resources and the Environment, 1998. The Belize Biodiversity Action
Plan 1998-2003.

Ministry of Natural Resources and the Environment, 1998.              The Belize Biodiversity
Strategy 1998-2003.

NARMAP, 1995. Towards a National Protected areas System Plan for Belize, Synthesis
Report.

Programme for Belize, 1996.           Rio Bravo Conservation and Management Area,
Management Plan (Third Edition).

Rogers, A., D. Sutton, P. Stafford, 1993. Report of the Joint Services Scientific
Expedition to the Upper Raspaculo River, Belize, Central America, April-June 1993.

Toledo Institute on Development and Environment, 1998. Port Honduras Marine Reserve
(Preliminary Draft Management Plan).

Toledo Institute on Development and Environment, 1999. Rapid Assessment of the Deep
River, Maya Mountains, and Swasey Bladen Forest Reserve.


UNDP, 2000. Belize National Human Development Report.

UNDP/ GEF, 1999. Establishment of a Programme for the Consolidation of the
Mesoamerican Biological Corridors.


                                               61
Zisman, S. 1996. The Directory of Belizean Protected Areas and Sites of Nature
Conservation Interest, (Second Edition)




                                      62
             ANNEX B


MAP OF GULF OF HONDURAS PRIORITY AREA




                 63
                            ANNEX C


         LIST OF PARTICIPANTS AT VALIDATION WORKSHOP



LIST OF INVITED PERSONS FOR MEETING OF 13/11/00 TOLEDO DISTRICT,
NAZARETH RETREAT CENTER FOR GULF OF HONDURAS PRIORITY AREA


NGOs and CBOs
CARD
BAPO
ESTAP
TMCC
SATIM
TIDE
Aguacaliente Mgt Team
GSSCP
BITI
SAGE
TEA
BFREE
National GARIFUNA
Council
Fishing Coops
Agri. Coops
Timber Licensees
Mr. Bernaldo Villafranco
GOB Agencies
Department of Agriculture
Fisheries Department
Forest Department
Cooperatives Department




                              64
        LIST OF PE RSONS WHO ATTENDED THE VALIDATION WORKSHOP IN
        PUNTA GORDA TOWN NAZARETH RETREAT CENTER ON 10/13/00
        FOR GULF OF HONDURAS PRIORITY AREA


NO   NAME                   ORGANIZA        POSITIO      ADDRE         TEL.        FAX E –MAIL
.                           TION            N            SS            (501)       (501 (Small caps)
                                                                                   )
1    Allan Herrera          Wilderness      Consultant                                   anherrera@btl.n
     (Presenter)            Group
                            Consulting                                                   et
2    Evaristo Avella        Wilderness      Consultant   No. 3 Linda   09-22927    09-   Wilderness@btl.
     (Workshop              Group                        Vista St.                 23671
     Coordinator)           Consultants                  Santa                           net
                                                         Elena,
                                                         Cayo Dist,

3    Anselmo Castaneda      MBC             NLO          76 Orange     08-22534/   08-     Envicp@btl.net
     (Presenter)                                         St.           0149154     23976
                                                         Belmopan                          Anselmo.castan
                                                         P.O. box                          eda@biomeso.n
                                                         179                               et
4    Javier Garcia          CARD
5    Mario Chavaria         CARD
6    Allen Genus            CARD
7    Norman Budna           CARD
8    Martin Cus             AMT
9    Bernaldo Villafranco   Forest
                            Department
10   Thomas Gomez           Lopez Sawmill
11   Nancy Gomez            Lopez Sawmill
12   Victor Paulino         Coop Officer
13   Alfredo Vieloria       AMT
14   Bill Kemp              BITI.
15   Bartolo Teul           G.S.C.P.
16   Pedro Makin            BITI.
17   Greg Choc              SATIIM
18   Marcial Palma          SDP/ESTAP
19   Elida Genus            Genus Sawmill
20   Oscar Cardiner         Genus Sawmill
21   Carla Paulino          SDP/ESTAP
22   Florentino Pop         AMT
23   Victor Jacobs Jr.      TIDE
24




                                                   65
                                         ANNEX D


AID MEMOIR FOR VALIDATION WORKSHOP HELD FOR GULF OF HONDURAS PRIORITY
                                AREA



Aid Memoir of Consultation Workshop Conducted in Punta Gorda, Toledo District on
November 13th, 2000.

Purpose

This meeting was a validation workshop aimed at obtaining local stakeholders input in the
participative planning process of the MBC. Participants were expected to verify baseline data
gathered as well as to make inputs on the proposed corridor routes.

Date & Venue:

This meeting was held at the Nazareth Retreat Center, Forest Home, Toledo District, on the 13th
of November 2000.

Participants.

This group of participants was a multi-sectoral representation. It included the NGO Community
of the region; Government funded Projects, Government Officials involved in natural resources
management, Community leaders, and the private sector (two logging companies were
represented).


Methodology Used

The methodology included introductory presentations on the concept of the MBC, and the
objectives of the meeting. These were followed by presentations of the information sheets with
a discussion to validate its findings.

The presentation on the corridor routes was then conducted, and this was followed by group
presentations of each organization’s activities that are supporting the MBC.


Contributions & Inputs

This group is fully aware of the concept of the MBC due to previous work by the NGO
community. This group presented sustainable activities that are being conducted which will be
supportive of the MBC. For example, the Golden Stream Corridor Preserve has identified and
delineated its internal corridor and its management mechanism. Other groups such as the
Sarstoon Temash Management Team and the Aguascalientes management Team are
conducting similar preparations to support the MBC.



                                              66
Main Conclusions

This group is well – informed and well organized in their individual activities. However, it was
clear that there was a lack of coordination of efforts at the district level. This is a problem due to
individual differences among organizations and it was agreed that a coordinating mechanism
would need to be established.




                                                 67
                                        ANNEX E




INFORMATION SHEETS FOR PROTECTED AREAS IN GULF HONDURAS PRIORITY AREA




                                  INFORMATION SHEET FOR


                        COCKSCOMB BASIN WILDLIFE SANCTUARY


1. General Information
Name of the area                  Cockscomb Basin Wildlife Sanctuary
Code of the area                  17
Geographic location               South Central Belize, with northern portion in Stann Creek District
                                  and southern portion in Toledo District
Area in hectares                  49,480 ha
Management categories             Wildlife sanctuary
Legal instrument of declaration   Created under the National Parks Systems Act (NPSA); SI 32 in
                                  March 1986, SI 127 November 1990 and SI 113 March 1997
Date of legal declaration         March 11, 1997 last declared under present designation and size

II. Ecological Issues
Natural vegetation cover      in ?
hectares
Forest types                    1.Transitional broadleaf forest, poor in lime loving species found in
                                higher elevations
                                2. Broadleaf forest with few lime loving species which are found over
                                the larger area of the basin
                                3. 7 vegetation types subgroups
Ecosystems present              ?
% Of natural ecosystems (%of ?
total)
Life zones present (2)           Subtropical wet forest life zone
Total vertebrae species present 388 species identified
Total plant species present     Total not available
Number of endemic species- 269 species of birds
fauna                           66 species of mammals
                                Fish- not determined



                                             68
                            33 species of reptiles
                            20 species of amphibians
                            32 species of odonata
                            54 species of lepidoptera
Number of endemic species – - Tree species not identified
flora                       - Other vegetation types not determined

III. Socio-economic issues
Total population of the area        1,472 persons
Population density                  Population density Stann Creek District 9.38 persons per km. sq.
                                    Population density Toledo District 5.13 persons per km. Sq.
Poverty index                       26.5% and 57.6 of individuals are poor in the Stann Creek and Toledo
                                    Districts respectively.
Economically active population      ?
Presence of indigenous people       a) Population of Maya extraction representing the Ketchi and Mopan
  a. Type                               Maya of which the latter is by far the most numerous.
  b. Numbers                        b) 1,472
Presence of ethnic groups           a) Mestizo
  a. Type                           b) No data available but known to be very low
  b. Numbers
Types and areas of land use         ?
  a. Types and area in ha.
Productive activities               Agriculture (citrus and bananas)
                                    Selective logging
                                    Ecotourism
                                    Shrimp
                                    Food processing
Land tenure type by %               ?
% Agricultural land and totals      ?
Agricultural land per capita        ?
Agriculture frontier zone(s)        ?

IV. Institutional issues
Existing projects in the area       Southern Highway Rehabilitation Project
(Name of projects)
National Institutions in the area   The Departments of Agriculture, Health, Education, Police, Public
                                    Works, Rural Development and Culture, Forest
Local organizations                 Citrus Growers Association
                                    United Banners Banana Workers Union
                                    Village Councils
NGOs                                Belize Audubon Society (BAS)
                                    Society for the Promotion of Education and Research (SPEAR)

Estimate of annual financial Information not available
cooperation

V. Threats
Forest fire incidence               Rare in hardwood forest
Advance of agricultural frontier    Significant in the unprotected eastern areas around Maya Center,
                                    Maya Mopan and Red Bank


                                                69
High rates of conversion of land Between 1989 and 1994 Stann Creek and Toledo District loss on
use                                average 4,900 ha. Per annum
Forest license/ concessions        For 1998
                                   Stann Creek District–4 forest licenses issued
                                   Toledo District – 19 forest licenses issued
Mining Licenses                    ?
Infrastructure projects such as Southern Highway Rehabilitation Project
roads,                             CARD Project
Pipelines, dams etc
Environmental vulnerability
Areas subject to flooding          - Only low lying areas in the floodplain become inundated periodically,
                                   however flash floods are common on the waterways
                                   - All areas experience water stress in the 4 month dry season
Areas prone to drought             - Entire area is within hurricane zone however the south is less prone
Areas affected by hurricane        than the north of the country
                                   -Volcanoes have not been known to affect this area and neither does
Areas at risk with volcanic action the geological data indicate historical activity.

VI. Opportunities
Environmental           services
(potential or existing)
   - Water for irrigation        - Negligible amounts used for irrigation however some used to
                                 support fresh water fishery on Swasey Branch.
   - Potable water               - In 3 Mayan Communities almost all water to the homes are piped in
                                 through rudimentary water system.
   - Hydropower                  - Potential for small scale hydropower generation with very limited
                                 capacity and seasonal activity due to small size of the waterways,
                                 and droughty periods.
   - Energy from wind or - Potential for wind on higher altitudes geothermal possibilities
      geothermal                 undetermined.
   - Eco- tourism                - Existing facilities inside the CTWS, other facilities being developed
                                 in Mayan Communities.
   - Carbon offsets/ credits     - Potential but no existing program.
   - Archaeological              -Archaeological sites and cultural features known to exist on the
      monuments                  CBWS.

1. According to Dinerstein
1. According to Holdrige




                                               70
        INFORMATION SHEET FOR BLADEN NATURE RESERVE


I. GENERAL INFORMATION
Name of the Area                          Bladen       Nature
                                          Reserve
Code of the area
Geographic Location                       Northern      Toledo
                                          District
Area in Hectares.                         40,338.3 ha.
Management Category                       Nature Reserve
Legal instrument of declaration           S.I. 66 of 1990
Date of legal Declaration                 June 1990
II. ECOLOGICAL ISSUES
Natural vegetation cover in Hectares      40,338.3 ha.
Forest Types                              Broadleaf Forest,
                                          Secondary Forest,
                                          Shrub Thicket, Pine
                                          Forest,      Orchard
                                          Savannah
Ecosystems present                        Broadleaf
                                          Ecosystem,
                                          Secondary Forest
                                          Ecosystem, Shrub
                                          thicket ecosystem,
                                          Pine           forest
                                          ecosystem, orchard
                                          savannah
                                          ecosystem
% Of Natural ecosystems (% of total)      Unknown
Life Zones present (2)                    Subtropical       wet
                                          except     for    the
                                          western         area,
                                          which is subtropical
                                          lower Montane wet
                                          (Holdrige).
Total vertebrae species present           Unknown
Total plant species present               Unknown
Number of endemic species- fauna          Unknown
Number of endemic species- flora          Unknown
III. SOCIO-ECONOMIC ISSUES
Total population of the area              None
Population Density                        Na
Poverty index                             Na
Economically active population            Na
Presence of indigenous people             None inside of park
     a. Type
     b. Numbers
Presence of ethnic groups                 None    inside   the


                           71
   b. Type                                               park
   c. Numbers
Types and areas of Land Use                              Research        and
   a. Types and Area in Ha.                              protection forest –
                                                         40,338.3         ha.
                                                         (100%)
Productive activities                                    Research
Land tenure Types by %                                   Total    Area     is
                                                         Government
                                                         Owned.
% Agricultural lands and totals                          None
Agricultural land per capita                             None
Agriculture Frontier Zone (s)                            Unknown
IV. INSTITUTIONAL ISSUES
Existing Projects in the Area                            La Sierra Research
(Names of Projects)                                      Program
National Institutions in the Area                        Forest Department
Local organizations                                      Belize Foundation
                                                         For Research and
                                                         Environmental
                                                         Education
                                                         (BFREE),

                                                         Bladen
                                                         Consortium.

NGOs                                                     BFREE
Estimate ($) of annual cooperation                       Unknown
V. THREATS
Forest fire incidence                                    Low
Advance of the agricultural frontier                     Medium
High rates of conversion of land Use                     Unknown
Forest License/concessions                               None
Mining Licenses                                          None
Infrastructure Projects such as roads, pipelines, dams   None
Environmental Vulnerability                              Vulnerability     to
    Areas subject to flooding                            flooding low
    Areas prone to drought
    Areas affected by hurricanes                         Vulnerability     to
    Areas at risk with volcanic action                   drought low

                                                         Entire          area
                                                         vulnerable        to
                                                         hurricanes

                                                         Vulnerability     to
                                                         volcanic action low
VI. OPPORTUNITIES
Environmental Services (potential or existing)
         - Water for irrigation                          Potential


                             72
        - Potable water                    Potential
        - Hydropower                       Unknown
        - Energy from wind or geothermal   Unknown
        - Eco-tourism                      Potential
        - Carbon offsets/credit            Potential
        - Archaeological monuments         Potential
1. According to Dinerstein
2. According to Holdrige




                       73
   INFORMATION SHEET FOR MAYA MOUNTAIN FOREST RESERVE


I. GENERAL INFORMATION
Name of the Area                        Maya       Mountain
                                        Forest Reserve
Code of the area
Geographic Location                     North          Eastern
                                        Toledo District
Area in Hectares.                       51,844.76 ha.
Management Category                     Forest Reserve
Legal instrument of declaration         First SI 42 of 1977

                                        Latest SI 13 of 1979
Date of legal Declaration               First is May 1977

                                        Latest is March 1979
II. ECOLOGICAL ISSUES
Natural vegetation cover in Hectares    51,844.76 ha.
Forest Types                            Broadleaf     Forest,
                                        including    Riparian
                                        Forest
Ecosystems present                      Broadleaf         and
                                        riparian ecosystems
% Of Natural ecosystems (% of total)    Unknown
Life Zones present (2)                  Subtropical     lower
                                        Montane wet in the
                                        west and subtropical
                                        wet in the east
                                        (Holdrige)
Total vertebrae species present         Unknown
Total plant species present             Unknown
Number of endemic species- fauna        Unknown
Number of endemic species- flora        Unknown
III. SOCIO-ECONOMIC ISSUES
Total population of the area            None inside reserve
                                        but            Trio/
                                        Swasey/Bladen
                                        communities    near
                                        boundaries.

                                        Total population –
                                        1,262
Population Density                      Unknown
Poverty index                           Unknown
Economically active population          Unknown
Presence of indigenous people           None inside reserve
   c. Type                              but Mayan people
   d. Numbers                           inhabit the three
                                        inhabited areas


                            74
                                                         Total – 1,262
Presence of ethnic groups                                None inside reserve
   d. Type                                               but Mayan people
   e. Numbers                                            inhabit the three
                                                         communities

                                                         Total – 1262
Types and areas of Land Use                              Logging
   b. Types and Area in Ha.                              Area in hectares
                                                         unknown
Productive activities                                    Logging
Land tenure Types by %                                   Entire    area  is
                                                         Government owned
% Agricultural lands and totals                          None
Agricultural land per capita                             Na
Agriculture Frontier Zone (s)                            Unknown
IV. INSTITUTIONAL ISSUES
Existing Projects in the Area                            None
(Names of Projects)
National Institutions in the Area                        Forest Department
Local organizations                                      None
NGOs                                                     None
Estimate ($) of annual cooperation                       Unknown
V. THREATS
Forest fire incidence                                    Moderate
Advance of the agricultural frontier                     Low
High rates of conversion of land Use                     Low
Forest License/concessions                               ########
Mining Licenses                                          None
Infrastructure Projects such as roads, pipelines, dams   None
Environmental Vulnerability                              Minimal vulnerability
    Areas subject to flooding                            to flooding
    Areas prone to drought
    Areas affected by hurricanes                         Minimal vulnerability
    Areas at risk with volcanic action                   to drought

                                                         Entire area subject
                                                         to     effects   of
                                                         hurricane

                                                         Volcanic     activity
                                                         non-existent
VI. OPPORTUNITIES
Environmental Services (potential or existing)
         - Water for irrigation                          Potential
         - Potable water                                 Potential
         - Hydropower                                    Potential
         - Energy from wind or geothermal                Unknown
         - Eco-tourism                                   Potential


                            75
        - Carbon offsets/credit      Potential
        - Archaeological monuments   Potential
1. According to Dinerstein
2. According to Holdrige




                      76
      INFORMATION SHEET FOR RIO BLANCO NATIONAL PARK


I. GENERAL INFORMATION
Name of the Area                        Rio Blanco     National
                                        Park
Code of the area
Geographic Location                     Central Toledo District
Area in Hectares.                       40.47 ha.
Management Category                     National Park
Legal instrument of declaration         S.I. 41 of 1994
Date of legal Declaration               May 1994
II. ECOLOGICAL ISSUES
Natural vegetation cover in Hectares    40.47 ha.
Forest Types                            Broadleaf     including
                                        riparian forest and
                                        secondary growth
Ecosystems present                      Broadleaf ecosystem,
                                        Riparian ecosystem
% Of Natural ecosystems (% of total)    Unknown
Life Zones present (2)                  Subtropical         wet
                                        (Holdrige)
Total vertebrae species present         Unknown
Total plant species present             Unknown
Number of endemic species- fauna        Unknown
Number of endemic species- flora        Unknown
III. SOCIO-ECONOMIC ISSUES
Total population of the area            None
Population Density                      Na
Poverty index                           Na
Economically active population          Na
Presence of indigenous people           None inside the park
     e. Type                            but    two      villages
     f. Numbers                         adjacent to park

                                        - 397 residents in both
                                        villages
Presence of ethnic groups               Mayan groups living in
   f. Type                              two villages adjacent to
   g. Numbers                           reserve

                                        - 397 residents in both
                                        villages.
Types and areas of Land Use             Tourism and recreation
   c. Types and Area in Ha.             – 30% (12.14 ha.)
                                        Preservation – 70%
                                        (28.33 ha.)
Productive activities                   Tourism and recreation
Land tenure Types by %                  Total       Area     is
                                        Government owned but


                            77
                                                    discussions   ongoing
                                                    for    co-management
                                                    agreement with Rio
                                                    Blanco Mayan Assn.
% Agricultural lands and totals                     None
Agricultural land per capita                        None
Agriculture Frontier Zone (s)                       Unknown
IV. INSTITUTIONAL ISSUES
Existing Projects in the Area                       None
(Names of Projects)
National Institutions in the Area                   Forest Department
Local organizations                                 Rio Blanco Mayan
                                                    Association,     Peace
                                                    Corps, Tour Guide
                                                    Association - Toledo
NGOs                                                None
Estimate ($) of annual cooperation                  Unknown
V. THREATS
Forest fire incidence                             Minimal
Advance of the agricultural frontier              High but boundaries of
                                                  park are now being
                                                  respected.
High rates of conversion of land Use              No
Forest License/concessions                        None
Mining Licenses                                   None
Infrastructure Projects such as roads, pipelines, Possible        highway
dams                                              development to link
                                                  Guatemala/         Belize,
                                                  which is outside of park
                                                  boundaries but will
                                                  have impact on the
                                                  area.
Environmental Vulnerability                       Vulnerability to flooding
    Areas subject to flooding                     is medium
    Areas prone to drought
    Areas affected by hurricanes                  Low vulnerability to
    Areas at risk with volcanic action            drought

                                                    Entire area subject to
                                                    damage           from
                                                    hurricanes

                                                    Volcanic activity non-
                                                    existent
VI. OPPORTUNITIES
Environmental Services (potential or existing)
         - Water for irrigation                     Potential
         - Potable water                            Potential
         - Hydropower                               Potential
         - Energy from wind or geothermal           None


                             78
        - Eco-tourism                Existing
        - Carbon offsets/credit      Potential
        - Archaeological monuments   None
1. According to Dinerstein
2. According to Holdrige




                      79
                                  INFORMATION SHEET FOR

                            COLUMBIA RIVER FOREST RESERVE


1. General Information
Name of the area                  Columbia River Forest Reserve
Code of the area                  18
Geographic location               Southern Belize in Western Toledo District
Area in hectares                  60,039 ha
Management categories             Forest Reserve
Legal instrument of declaration   Created under the National Parks Systems Act (NPSA); SI 33 (June
                                  1954), SI 40 (May 1977) SI 115 (1997)
Date of legal declaration         Last declared at present designation and size in SI 115 of 1997

II. Ecological Issues
Natural vegetation cover       in ?
hectares
Forest types                    1.Montane forest
                                2.Broadleaf forest
                                3.Pine savannah
                                4.Secondary broadleaf forest
Ecosystems present              ?
% Of natural ecosystems (%of ?
total)
Life zones present (2)          Subtropical Lower Montane Wet, with some Subtropical Lower
                                Montane Moist to the west and Subtropical Wet to the east.
Total vertebrae species present 375 species identified
Total plant species present     C400 plant species identified
Number of endemic species- 271 species of birds
fauna                           66 species of mammals
                                4 species of fish
                                19 species of reptiles
                                15 species of amphibians
                                19 species odonata
                                18 species lepidoptera
Number of endemic species – 400 endemic plant species identified
flora

III. Socio-economic issues
Total population of the area      7376 persons living on Belizean side of border in 1991 census who
                                  were in daily traveling distance to reserve
Population density                5.13 persons per km. Sq. in 1998 for entire Toledo District
Poverty index                     57.6% of individuals in the Toledo District were considered poor in
                                  1996 poverty report
Economically active population    ?
Presence of indigenous people     a) Mayans
  a. Type                         b) Most of the 7,376 people living close to the reserve are Ketchi or
  b. Numbers                         Mopan Maya



                                              80
Presence of ethnic groups           Negligible presence of other groups
  a. Type
  b. Numbers
Types and areas of land use         ?
  a. Types and area in ha.
Productive activities               Agriculture (rice, cacao, bananas, livestock)
                                    Logging
                                    Ecotourism
                                    Shrimp
Land tenure type by %               ?
% Agricultural land and totals      ?
Agricultural land per capita        ?
Agriculture frontier zone(s)        ?

IV. Institutional issues
Existing projects in the area       Southern Highway Rehabilitation Project
(Name of projects)
National Institutions in the area   Forest Department, Agriculture Department, Health and Social
                                    Services, Police and Military
Local organizations                   - Southern Alliance for Grassroots Empowerment.
                                      - Ketchi Council Of Belize
                                      - Toledo Alcalde Association
                                      - Toledo Bee keepers and Farmer’s Cooperative
                                      - Toledo Cacoa Growers Association
                                      - Toledo Eco-Tourism Association
                                      - Toledo Grain Growers Association
                                      - Toledo Maya Cultural Council
                                      - Toledo Maya Women’s Council
                                      - Village councils
                                      - Uxbentun Ladies Group
                                      - Partnership Groups with Aguacaliente Mgt. Team
                                      - ESTAP/Southern Development Project
                                      - CARD
                                      - Toledo Ecotourism Association

NGOs                                -Toledo Institute for Development and the Environment
                                    Plenty International
                                    BFREE
                                    BAPO

Estimate of annual financial Figure not available
cooperation

V. Threats
Forest fire incidence            Rare
Advance of agricultural frontier Rapid along the Guatemalan border and in the southern and eastern
                                 Belizean communities
High rates of conversion of land 1989-1994 average of 12,105 acres deforested per annum in
use                              southern region
Forest license/ concessions      19 licenses given out under different license type


                                                81
Mining Licenses                    None
Infrastructure projects such as Southern Highway Development Project
roads,
Pipelines, dams etc
Environmental vulnerability
Areas subject to flooding
                                   - Incidence of flooding mostly in the coastal plain area occurs on
                                   annual basis plus frequent flash floods in the waterways.
Areas prone to drought             - District of high rainfall, however deforested areas at higher elevations
                                   are subjected to periodic drought conditions.
                                   - Entire Toledo District lies in hurricane belt average of 1 major storm
Areas affected by hurricane        every 20-25 years.
Areas at risk with volcanic action - No volcanic action has been known to occur within this district

VI. Opportunities
Environmental           services
(potential or existing)
   - Water for irrigation          - Potential
   - Potable water                 - Existing, potential for further development
   - Hydropower                    - Small potential
   - Energy from wind or           - Potential
      geothermal
   - Eco- tourism                  - Existing though in embryonic stage
   - Carbon offsets/ credits       - Potential
   - Archaeological
      monuments                    - Existing archaeological sites and other cultural features

2. According to Dinerstein
3. According to Holdrige




                                                82
                                  INFORMATION SHEET FOR

                              DEEP RIVER FOREST RESERVE


1. General Information
Name of the area                  Deep River Forest Reserve
Code of the area                  22
Geographic location               Southern Belize in the eastern Toledo District
Area in hectares                  31,387 ha
Management categories             Forest reserve
Legal instrument of declaration   Created under the National Parks Systems Act (NPSA);
Date of legal declaration         First declared a forest reserve July, 1941 (SI 49); last declared in SI
                                  66 of 1990

II. Ecological Issues
Natural vegetation cover      in ?
hectares
Forest types                    1.Pine Forest
                                2.Gallery Forest
                                3.Broadleaf Forest
                                4.Mangrove
Ecosystems present              ?
% Of natural ecosystems (%of ?
total)
Life zones present (2)           Subtropical wet
Total vertebrae species present 33 (data incomplete)
Total plant species present     ? Tree species identified
Number of endemic species- No listing on bird species available
fauna                           2 species of mammal
                                16 species of fish
                                5 species of reptiles
                                    3 Species of amphibians
                                30 species of odonata
Number of endemic species – - Tree species identified
flora                           - Other vegetation types not determined

III. Socio-economic issues
Total population of the area      Approx. 3000
Population density                5.13 persons per sq. km. For Toledo District
Poverty index                     57.6% of individuals in the Toledo District are regarded as poor
Economically active population    ?
Presence of indigenous people     ?
   a. Type
   b. Numbers
Presence of ethnic groups         ?
   a. Type
   b. Numbers
Types and areas of land use       ?
   a. Types and area in ha.


                                              83
Productive activities               Agriculture (rice, corn, beans, cacao)
                                    Selective logging
                                    Ecotourism
                                    Shrimp
Land tenure type by %               ?
% Agricultural land and totals      ?
Agricultural land per capita        ?
Agriculture frontier zone(s)        ?

IV. Institutional issues
Existing projects in the areaSouthern Highway Rehabilitation Project
(Name of projects)           CARD Project
                             Forest Department, Agriculture Department, Health and Social
National Institutions in the area
                             Services, Police and Military, Fisheries.
Local organizations          - Golden Stream Corridor Preserve,
                             - Punta Gorda Conservation Committee
                             - Village councils
NGOs                          Toledo Institute for Development and the Environment
Estimate of annual financial Figure not available
cooperation

V. Threats
Forest fire incidence               Prevalent (yearly) on the pine savannah
Advance of agricultural frontier    Slow
High rates of conversion of land    High for district, low for the buffer zone area
use
Forest license/ concessions         19 licenses issued for the Toledo District
Mining Licenses                      ?
Infrastructure projects such as     Southern Highway Rehabilitation Project
roads,
Pipelines, dams etc
Environmental vulnerability
Areas subject to flooding
                                    -Mangrove swamps are seasonally inundated, flash floods are
                                    common along waterways in rainy season

Areas prone to drought
                                   -Sandy soils of pine savannah experience severe drying out in dry
Areas affected by hurricane        season
Areas at risk with volcanic action - Entire district falls within the hurricane belt

                                    - Volcanoes are not known to affect this area

VI. Opportunities
Environmental           services
(potential or existing)
   - Water for irrigation           -Potential
   - Potable water                  -Potential
   - Hydropower                     -Potential
   - Energy from wind or            -Potential


                                                 84
      geothermal
  -   Eco- tourism              -Existing though in it’s infancy stages
  -   Carbon offsets/ credits   -Potential
  -   Archaeological
      monuments                 -None

4. According to Dinerstein
5. According to Holdrige




                                             85
                                  INFORMATION SHEET FOR

                             PAYNES CREEK NATIONAL PARK


1. General Information
Name of the area                  Paynes Creek National Park
Code of the area                  43
Geographic location               Southern Belize in the Eastern Toledo District
Area in hectares                  11,906 ha
Management categories             National park
Legal instrument of declaration   Created under the National Parks Systems Act (NPSA); SI 43 of 1994
Date of legal declaration         May 1994 declared at present designation and size

II. Ecological Issues
Natural vegetation cover      in ?
hectares
Forest types                    1.Mangrove
                                2.Broadleaf forest
                                3.Savannah
Ecosystems present              1. Marine coastal
                                2. Brackish lagoons
                                3. Broadleaf forest
                                4. Savannah
                                5. Riparian
                                6. Swamp
% Of natural ecosystems (%of ?
total)
Life zones present (2)           Holdrige Subtropical wet and tropical moist over a tiny strip to the
                                east
Total vertebrae species present 3 species documented so far
Total plant species present     No data available on plant species
Number of endemic species- No data on birds
fauna                           1 mammal specie
                                1 specie of fish
                                1 reptile specie
                                No data on amphibians
Number of endemic species – - No data available
flora                           - Other vegetation types not determined

III. Socio-economic issues
Total population of the area      1000 +
Population density                5.13 persons per sq. km for district
Poverty index                     57.6% of individuals for district
Economically active population    ?
Presence of indigenous people     ?
   a. Type
   b. Numbers




                                              86
Presence of ethnic groups          ?
  a. Type
  b. Numbers
Types and areas of land use        ?
  a. Types and area in ha.
Productive activities              Agriculture (citrus and bananas)
                                   Selective logging
                                   Ecotourism
                                   Mariculture

Land tenure type by %              ?
% Agricultural land and totals     ?
Agricultural land per capita       ?
Agriculture frontier zone(s)       ?

IV. Institutional issues
Existing projects in the area     - Southern Highway Rehabilitation Project
(Name of projects)                - CARD project
                                  ESTAP/SDP
National Institutions in the area -Forest Department, Agriculture Department, Health and Social
                                  Services, Rural Development and Culture, Police and Military,
                                  fisheries.
Local organizations               - Golden Stream Corridor Preserve,
                                  - Punta Gorda Conservation Committee
                                  -Association for the Preservation of Monkey River
                                  - Village councils
NGOs                              - Toledo Institute for Development and the Environment
Estimate of annual financial Figure not available
cooperation

V. Threats
Forest fire incidence              Annually in the savannah area
Advance of agricultural frontier   ?
High rates of conversion of land   Approx. 4,900 ha. Cleared per annum on average in 2 southern
use                                districts
Forest license/ concessions        19 distributed for the Toledo District in1998
Mining Licenses                    None given out
Infrastructure projects such as    Southern Highway Rehabilitation Project
roads,
Pipelines, dams etc
Environmental vulnerability
Areas subject to flooding
Areas prone to drought             - Coastal mangrove swamps are seasonally flooded
                                   - Areas within the pine savannah experience heavy water stress during
Areas affected by hurricane        the dry season
Areas at risk with volcanic action - Entire Toledo District is within the hurricane belt

                                   - Volcanic activity have not been known to affect this area




                                               87
VI. Opportunities
Environmental           services
(potential or existing)
   - Water for irrigation          -   Potential
   - Potable water                 -   Potential
   - Hydropower                    -   Potential
   - Energy from wind or           -   Potential
      geothermal
   - Eco- tourism                  -   Existing
   - Carbon offsets/ credits       -   Potential
   - Archaeological
      monuments                    -   Existing within Punta Ycacos Lagoon area

6. According to Dinerstein
7. According to Holdrige




                                             88
                                  INFORMATION SHEET FOR

                           PORT HONDURAS MARINE RESERVE

1. General Information
Name of the area                  Port Honduras Marine Reserve
Code of the area                  43A
Geographic location               Southern Belize offshore the Toledo District
Area in hectares                  40,914.6 ha
Management categories             Marine Reserve
Legal instrument of declaration   Created under the Fisheries Ordinance 1977
Date of legal declaration         Declared at present designation and size in SI 9 of 2000

II. Ecological Issues
Natural vegetation cover       in Not determined
hectares
Forest types                    Mangrove communities
Ecosystems present              Mangrove, sea grass beds, coral reef (patch), sand and shingle cayes,
                                shallow marine bay.
% Of natural ecosystems (%of ?
total)
Life zones present (2)           Subtropical Wet.
Total vertebrae species present 504
Total plant species present     Total plant species not determined
Number of endemic species- 420 species of birds
fauna                           38 species of mammals
                                70 species of fish
                                32 species of reptiles
                                14 species of amphibians

Number of endemic species – Number of endemic plant species not determined
flora

III. Socio-economic issues
Total population of the area      4500 persons live in coastal areas of southern Belize
Population density                5.13 persons per km. Sq. in 1998 for entire Toledo District
Poverty index                     57.6% of individuals in the Toledo District were considered poor in
                                  1996 poverty report
Economically active population    ?
Presence of indigenous people     c) Mayans
  a. Type                         d) Approx. 14,000 for the entire Toledo District
  b. Numbers
Presence of ethnic groups         ?
  a. Type
  b. Numbers
Types and areas of land use       ?
  a. Types and area in ha.
Productive activities             Agriculture (rice, cacao, bananas, livestock)
                                  Logging
                                  Ecotourism


                                              89
                                    Shrimp
Land tenure type by %               ?
% Agricultural land and totals      ?
Agricultural land per capita        ?
Agriculture frontier zone(s)        ?

IV. Institutional issues
Existing projects in the area-Southern Highway Rehabilitation Project
(Name of projects)           -Aquaculture
                             - Forest Department
National Institutions in the area
                             - Fisheries Department
Local organizations          - Port Honduras Advisory Committee
                             - Citrus Growers association
                             - Banana Growers Association
                             - Monkey River Tour Guide Association
                             -Association for the Preservation of Monkey River
NGOs                         -Toledo Institute for Development and the Environment & TNC, WWF?
                             IDB? USAID PROARCA CAPAS
Estimate of annual financial Figure not available
cooperation

V. Threats
Forest fire incidence               - Not applicable
Advance of agricultural frontier    - Not applicable
High rates of conversion of land    1989-1994 average of 4,900 ha. Deforested per annum in southern
use                                 region
Forest license/ concessions         19 licenses given out under different licensing categories
Mining Licenses                     None
Infrastructure projects such as     Southern Highway Rehabilitation Project
roads,
Pipelines, dams etc
Environmental vulnerability
Areas subject to flooding
                                   - Incidence of flooding mostly in the coastal plain area occurs on annual
Areas prone to drought             basis
Areas affected by hurricane        - None
Areas at risk with volcanic action - Entire Toledo District lies in hurricane belt average of 1 major storm
                                   every 20-25 years
                                   - No volcanic activity has been known to occur within this district

VI. Opportunities
Environmental           services
(potential or existing)
   - Water for irrigation           -Potential
   - Potable water                  -Potential
   - Hydropower                     -Potential
   - Energy from wind or            -Potential
      geothermal
   - Eco- tourism                   -Potential
   - Carbon offsets/ credits        -Potential within reef formation and sea grass communities


                                                 90
  -   Archaeological         -None
      monuments

8. According to Dinerstein
9. According to Holdrige




                                     91
                       INFORMATION SHEET FOR

                 SARSTOON TEMASH NATIONAL PARK


I. GENERAL INFORMATION
Name of the Area                                 Sarstoon
                                                 Temash
                                                 National Park
Code of the area
Geographic Location                              South Eastern
                                                 Toledo District
Area in Hectares.                                16,955.55 ha
Management Category                              National Park
Legal instrument of declaration                  SI 42 of 1994
Date of legal Declaration                        May 1994
II. ECOLOGICAL ISSUES
Natural vegetation cover in Hectares             100%
Forest Types                                     Broadleaf
                                                 forest,
                                                 freshwater
                                                 swamp forest,
                                                 mangroves, and
                                                 herbaceous
                                                 marsh
Ecosystems present                               Broadleaf
                                                 forest,
                                                 freshwater
                                                 swamp forest,
                                                 mangrove
                                                 forest,     and
                                                 herbaceous
                                                 marsh
                                                 ecosystem
% Of Natural ecosystems (% of total)             100%
Life Zones present (2)                           Tropical Wet
Total vertebrae species present                  Unknown
Total plant species present                      Unknown
Number of endemic species- fauna                 Unknown
Number of endemic species- flora                 Unknown
III. SOCIO-ECONOMIC ISSUES
Total population of the area                     None inside the
                                                 park    but    6
                                                 villages around
                                                 park
Population Density                               Approximately
                                                 916
Poverty index                                    Unknown
Economically active population                   Na
Presence of indigenous people                    None      inside


                           92
   g. Type                          park   but     6
   h. Numbers                       communities
                                    adjacent to park

                                    Total   number
                                    approximately
                                    916
Presence of ethnic groups           Maya       and
   h. Type                          Garifuna ethnic
   i. Numbers                       groups

                                    Total 916
Types and areas of Land Use         Recreation,
   d. Types and Area in Ha.         tourism     and
                                    research
Productive activities               Tourism
Land tenure Types by %              100%
                                    Government
                                    owned       but
                                    ongoing
                                    discussions for
                                    co-management
                                    agreement with
                                    Sarstoon
                                    Temash
                                    Institute    of
                                    Indigenous
                                    Management
                                    (SATIM)
% Agricultural lands and totals     0
Agricultural land per capita        Na
Agriculture Frontier Zone (s)       Unknown
IV. INSTITUTIONAL ISSUES
Existing Projects in the Area       Community
(Names of Projects)                 managed
                                    Sarstoon
                                    Temash
                                    Conservation
                                    Project
                                    (COMSTEC) –
                                    GEF      Medium
                                    Size Project
National Institutions in the Area   Forest
                                    Department
Local organizations                 SATIM,
                                    Southern
                                    Development
                                    Project
                                    (formerly
                                    ESTAP)



                             93
NGOs                                                     SATIM
Estimate ($) of annual cooperation                       Unknown
V. THREATS
Forest fire incidence                                    Very low
Advance of the agricultural frontier                     High            but
                                                         boundaries of
                                                         park are now
                                                         being
                                                         respected.
High rates of conversion of land Use                     Unknown
Forest License/concessions                               None
Mining Licenses                                          Some        illegal
                                                         gravel mining
Infrastructure Projects such as roads, pipelines, dams   None
Environmental Vulnerability                              High incidence
    Areas subject to flooding                            of flooding
    Areas prone to drought
    Areas affected by hurricanes                         Very           low
    Areas at risk with volcanic action                   incidence        of
                                                         drought

                                                         Entire     area
                                                         subject      to
                                                         effects      of
                                                         hurricanes

                                                         Volcanic activity
                                                         non-existent
VI. OPPORTUNITIES
Environmental Services (potential or existing)
         - Water for irrigation                          Potential
         - Potable water                                 Existing
         - Hydropower                                    Potential
         - Energy from wind or geothermal                None
         - Eco-tourism                                   Existing
         - Carbon offsets/credit                         Potential
         - Archaeological monuments                      Unknown

 1. According to Dinerstein
 2. According to Holdrige




                             94

				
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