SNRE Masters Project
Conservation of natural resources in tropical ecosystems is a valuable component of protecting global biodiversity and ensuring a sustainable future for generations to come. Belize, the smallest country in Central America, is home to a remarkable array of biological and cultural resources, such as the world’s second-longest barrier reef and extensive Mayan ruins. Belize is largely undeveloped, and 36 percent of its land has protected status -- the largest percentage of any Central American country.
The Belize Audubon Society (BAS), a non-profit, non-governmental organization, is responsible for the management and viability of six of these protected areas. Acknowledging that resource protection and economic development are inextricably linked, BAS actively collaborates with local communities, businesses, the national government and international conservation organizations to examine a wide range issues and search for viable solutions to ensure protection of the natural resources. However, there is no unified management strategy among these protected areas, and conservation programs are approached differently at each site. Nevertheless, BAS would like to develop integrated management strategies in order to better coordinate protected-area management.
The goal of this masters project is to provide information to BAS that will facilitate better management of and coordination between BAS managed protected areas. The project team is presently examining how six key issues -- community issues, international policy, environmental education, organizational management, ecotourism and national policy -- affect the management of BAS protected areas. In April of 2000, the project team will present their findings and provide BAS with a set of recommendations and strategies for future management of these protected areas. Community Issues