The Belize Northeastern Biological Corridor

On February 13th 2018, the Government of Belize, at a sitting of the Cabinet, announced its support and approval for the creation of one of Central America’s largest-ever biological corridors, thanks to an outstanding public-private commitment. This new corridor now connects a system of three nature reserves in a region where deforestation has caused the loss of over 25,000 acres (10,000 hectares) of forest in the past 10 years. It provides large animals, such as Jaguar and Baird’s Tapirs, enough space to move freely between protected areas, and thus ensure their long-term survival. The Belize Northeastern Biological Corridor covers approximately 27,000 acres (11,000 hectares).
The idea to create biological corridors in Belize was first evoked in 1997 through an international project financed by the World Bank, which unfortunately had minimum success on the ground and eventually became dormant. In 2015, it was reactivated by a consortium of NGOs including the Corozal Sustainable Future Initiative (CSFI), its international partner the International Tropical Conservation Fund, and local Belizean NGO Wildtracks, as well as private landowners, namely the Rheinland Mennonite Community and the Balam Jungle Estates. This consortium presented the Government of Belize a joint declaration of their intention and motivation to create the corridor, which in turn set the project in motion.

Two years of intense diplomatic work ensued, which were crowned by success in 2018. This new geographic entity now ensures the long term viability of vast ecosystems, and the very rich fauna and flora they shelter. Ongoing wildlife monitoring activities within the area, confirm healthy populations of large mammal species such as jaguars, puma, Baird’s tapir and white-lipped peccaries. Without the continuous natural link between protected areas now established by this new corridor, their survival would be far from certain in the long term.

The necessity to create a corridor has long been evident, not only for animals but also for forests: with climate change already showing its first effects in north-eastern Belize, even plants need a chance to be able to migrate according to changing rainfall patterns.

Following the Government of Belize’s approval of the Northeastern Biological Corridor, two critical steps were necessary to set the stage for its formalization and official declaration.

The first was the acquisition of some very important tracts of land necessary to make the connection from Shipstern Management and Conservation Area to the rest of the system. With the help and support of international partners, these tracts have been acquired in 2018 and 2019, and included as part of the NE Biological Corridor.

The second step involves the partnering private land owners, entrusting their properties as part of the Corridor in perpetuity. This is imminent as all legal documents have been prepared and are their final stage of review before their official declaration and signing.

The corridor will be officially declared in 2019 and included, together with Shipstern C&MA, Honey Camp NP, and Freshwater Creek FR into an official Special Management Area in perpetuity.

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The creation of the Northeastern Biological Corridor would not have been possible without the invaluable support of the following institutions:

World Land Trust
Symphasis
Wilhelma

Stiftung-Regenwald
Gsell-Stiftung
Maya-Behn
Aptenia-Stiftung

mass-aubodon-massachusetts
Stiftung-Ormella

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