…aims at preserving habitats of high conservation value and their fauna and flora, before they disappear. This is achieved by providing effective surveillance to CSFI’s protected areas hold in trust for the benefit of the People and Government of Belize (and included in the National Protected Areas System Plan of Belize), or by the co-management of official protected areas of the Government of Belize, in collaboration with the authorities.
Sustainable Forest Management…
…is a very long-term commitment for CSFI. Our goal is simple: to turn the forests of Freshwater Creek Forest Reserve into healthy production forests again, by implementing sustainable forest management. This involves understanding and mapping the forests, planting mahogany and other hardwood tree species in natural or man-made gaps, and to carefully extract timber and other non-timber forest products. Our end goal is to prove that patience and well-planned forestry can generate profit for conservation and social development.
…aims at developing nature and cultural tourism responsibly, ensuring that income generated benefits all partners involved, and that profits remain within the area, be it with partners in the local communities or reinvestments via CSFI’s conservation & social development programs/activities.
The CSFI Movie
Shipstern Nature Reserve was created in 1989 at the impulse of the International Tropical Conservation Fund, an NGO based at the Papiliorama Zoo of Switzerland and the Burgers Zoo in Arnhem, Netherlands. Today, this initial private protected area has become a trust for the People of Belize, and is now known as the Shipstern Conservation and Management Area.
CSFI is a Belizean NGO, not for profit, duly registered and audited. Its board is composed of both leading Belizean and foreign conservationists by trade or at heart. Although its legal seat is in Belize City, CSFI has traditionally been a field-based organization, and its offices are currently still located at the very heart of the Shipstern Conservation and Management Area, in the Corozal District.
The name Shipstern reportedly derives from a village within Shipstern forest that was abandoned after the devastating passage of Hurricane Janet in 1955. It may have designated a point in the Lagoon where logging boats could go no further (“ship’s turn”), but other origins for the name have been locally known. The name Shipstern today has been given to the lagoon, the forest where the village used to be, as well as to the unexcavated Mayan ceremonial centre just South of Shipstern C&MA.
In 1986, the parcel of land which was to become Shipstern was purchased by English businessman and butterfly enthusiast Clive Farrell. He created (at what today still is the headquarters of the protected area) a butterfly production centre designed to supply various butterfly exhibits in the United Kingdom. In 1989, unable to sustain further the costs of maintaining and protecting such a large area, he sold the land to the freshly created International Tropical Conservation Fund. Although butterfly production was continued for a few years, the strong dry season made the operation economically unviable. The original breeding area is now an exhibit which still produces some butterflies for tourism purposes.
Dr. Melanie McField (Chair)
One of Belize’s leading marine scientists, Melanie McField has been a Director ever since the creation of Shipstern Nature Reserve (now known as Shipstern Conservation and Management Area). In the early years, Melanie McField personally oversaw and supervised its management.
Ms. Janet Gibson MSc
Probably one of the most well-known conservationists of Belize, Janet Gibson was instrumental in the creation of numerous marine protected areas along Belize’s Barrier Reef. In 1994-1996, in collaboration with the International Tropical Conservation Fund (CSFI’s main partner and funder) she made possible the creation of the Bacalar Chico National Park and Marine Reserve.
Osmany Salas M.Sc (Treas.)
Osmany Salas has been a conservationist during his entire career. Successively Protected Areas Manager and Executive Director of the Belize Audubon Society, Osmany Salas also worked for the Forest Department of Belize as Chief Forest Officer. Today, he is a consultant in matters pertaining to natural resources and conservation, and, foremost, Belize’s 13th Senator, elected by the NGOs of Belize to represent them in the Senate.
A renowned lawyer in Belize, Rodwell Williams was instrumental in ensuring that Shipstern Nature Reserve became a trust in perpetuity for the benefit of the People of Belize. Aware of the importance of preserving the most outstanding habitats of his country, Rodwell became a Director of CSFI at the very moment the new entity existed legally.
Philip Zuniga OBE
A friend of Shipstern ever since its inception, Philip Zuniga is another renowned lawyer in Belize, and a former President of the Belizean Senate. For more than twenty years, Philip Zuniga has done all the legal work pertaining to CSFI’s activities in Belize on a voluntary basis, as (in his own words) “his contribution to the natural beauty of his country”.
Dr. Maarten Bijleveld
One of the founding members of the WWF Netherland in the 1960s, Maarten Bijleveld has been a conservationist all his life. After working at WWF International and at the IUCN, he created the Papiliorama Zoo in Switzerland in 1988. In 1989, he deemed it essential to link the zoo with a protected area in the tropics. He thus created and still is the president of the International Tropical Conservation Foundation (ITCF), which in turn created Shipstern Nature Reserve.
Caspar Bijleveld M.Sc (Secr.)
The apple never falling far from the tree, Caspar Bijleveld has collaborated with his father both at Papiliorama and with the Shipstern project. After having lived in Belize for almost two years and carrying out his Masters’ thesis at Shipstern, he has been ITCF’s project coordinator since 1997. In 2001, he became the director of the Papiliorama Zoo, taking over the responsibility for fundraising within the ITCF, while remaining its project coordinator.
Alex van Hooff
Alex van Hooff is the director of the Royal Burgers’ Zoo in Arnhem, Netherlands, one of the largest zoos in Europe and a pioneer/leader in displaying whole ecosystems under one roof. His father Anton was a long-time friend of Shipstern before his premature death in 2006. Alex van Hooff is a member of the board of the ITCF, and has been instrumental in financing many special projects for CSFI and Shipstern, mostly helping with much-needed new infrastructure.
Executive Director of CSFI
Heron Moreno holds a degree in business and administration, but conservation has always been his passion. He started his career still a teenager with the Belize Audubon Society, where he spent a few years and was eventually made responsible for protected areas. After working for some years as an independent in the tourism industry, Heron Moreno has come back to conservation by joining CSFI in 2008.
Field Coordinator for Shipstern C&MA, Senior Tour Guide and Head of Vigilance and Surveillance Activities
Joel Diaz joined the CSFI team in 2006 as a teenager with a desire to become involved in protected areas management. His love for his job has led him to spearhead many activities at CSFI and has now grown in a formidable member of the administrative team. His very outgoing and very friendly personality has earned him recognition as one of the best guides in Belize and his love for birds makes him a very well respected bird guide.
Field Coordinator for Freshwater Creek FR, Community Outreach and Liaison & Head of Sustainable Forest Management Activities
Lester Delgado is the longest serving member of the CSFI team. He first started working at Shipstern at the very young age of 15 in 2001. He has dedicated a little over half his life to the protection of the forests of Northern Belize. His easy going and soft spoken nature makes him the ideal person for maintaining communication with the surrounding communities. Recently, his focus has shifted to directing Sustainable Forest Management Activities at Freshwater Creek.
Tourism Coordinator, Office Manager and Head of Visitor and Guest Services
Having joined the CSFI team in 2013, Mayeli has developed a strong passion for conservation and protected areas management. Having studied Tourism Management in the neighbouring country of Mexico, Mayeli is an important member of the team. Her very warm nature makes her an ideal point of contact for visitors and guests, and much loved by the hundreds of school children that visit Shipstern every year.
- Jose Alvarenga – Head Ranger at Shipstern Conservation and Management Area, Ground leader for patrols and surveillance and field activities
- Rene Galindo – Head Ranger at Freshwater Creek Forest Reserve, Ground leader for patrols and surveillance and field activities
- Akeem Lopez – Deputy Head Ranger at Freshwater Creek Forest Reserve and Ground leader for Forestry Data Collection and Management
- Eduany Munoz – Ranger, Biodiversity Monitoring Assistant and Data Management
- Eli Gongora – Ranger, Surveillance, Biodiversity Monitoring Assistant
- Luis Castillo – Ranger, Surveillance, Infrastructure Maintenance and Construction
- Ermilo Durantez – Ranger, Surveillance, Botanical Monitoring Support
- Eduardo Canul – Ranger, Surveillance, Botanical Monitoring Support
- Abiezer Linarez – Ranger, Sustainable Forest Management Support
- Fermin Donis – Ranger, Sustainable Forest Management Support
- Jose Alfaro – Grounds Keeping, landscaping and Garden Support
- Dolores Durantez – Night Guard – Shipstern Conservation and Management Area
- Yolando Castillo – Night Guard . Freshwater Creek Forest Reserve
- Jamileth Perez – Head Cook, Kitchen and Housekeeping
- Winder Flores – Cook, Kitchen and Housekeeping
- Minelia Verde – Kitchen and Housekeeping support
Created by the Papiliorama of Kerzers (CH) in 1989, the ITCFund is a small non-profit organization, the main objective of which is to conserve tropical nature in a most concrete and practical way. It is also based in the Netherlands at the Royal Burger’s Zoo in Arnhem, and incorporated in the United States as a non-profit 501(c)3 organization. Overheads are minimal and covered by hosting zoos, while individual donors are guaranteed that 100% of their contribution is invested in the field. Other zoos in Europe have joined the project and now regularly support CSFI.
For the past 27 years, the Shipstern Conservation & Management Area has been the main focus of the ITCFund, and its largest project. In parallel, with the financial help of the European Union, ITCF was instrumental in the creation of the Bacalar Chico National Park and Marine Reserve (1996).
The Papiliorama Foundation, located in Kerzers (Switzerland), is a hybrid between a zoo and a botanical garden. Its main mission is to put the visitors in direct contact with plants and animals and give them the opportunity to enjoy a sample of the beauty and diversity of our planet’s nature. Whilst in the large exhibits the focus is on tropical fauna and flora, from butterfly ballets to the mysterious world of nocturnal animals, Papiliorama emphasizes the richness of local biodiversity in its outside gardens.
The zoo is divided in four main exhibits, namely a butterfly dome(the Papiliorama itself), a nocturnal dome where night and day cycles are reversed, a jungle dome, which is an exact copy of the forests of Shipstern, and a large outdoor garden where local biodiversity flourishes. The Belize project has been a pillar of Papiliorama’s philosophy ever since its inception.
The Royal Burgers’ Zoo is one of the largest zoos in the Netherlands, welcoming over a million and half visitors annually. In 1988, it opened Burger’s Bush, a giant greenhouse devoted to tropical forests, and the first of its kind in Europe. Today, it is still a reference worldwide. Burgers ‘Zoo was at the origin of the concept of “eco-displays”, in other words exhibits that show whole habitats, complete with fauna and flora. Besides the Bush, the zoo has created a Sonoran desert, a very large aquarium, an Asian display as well as an African safari.
In 2017 it will open a Belizean inspired exhibit, Burgers’ Mangrove, with West Indian Manatees and many other species. The vegetation in the dome will be strongly inspired if not replicate the drier forests of Shipstern C&MA. This will serve as a very important fundraising tool for CSFI’s activities.
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