A Visionary Plan to Protect Belize’s Natural Resources

Updated: July 28, 2017

A community-driven and science-based plan has been engineered to protect Belize’s natural resources. The International Journal of Biodiversity Science, Ecosystem Services & Management conducted a research in which it found how integrated planning can be beneficial for both nature and people. The idea is to tackle overfishing, development, and habitat degradation in a way that is a win-win opportunity for Belizeans and the environment. Data collected shows how researchers from the Coastal Zone Management Authority & Institute and Natural Capital Project developed Belize’s first integrated coastal management plan which was approved by the Government last year. Researchers spent 5 years assessing risks to three different habitats, corals, mangroves, and sea grasses. They also quantified and mapped the range of future benefits to people from three ecosystem services. This plan was described as ‘visionary’ by UNESCO in 2016. Belize’s coral reefs, mangrove forests, and seagrass meadows support a high diversity of marine species, and are also critical to the economy, with more than 60% of the population depending on ecosystem services such as tourism, food, and coastal protection.