Wednesday, March 21, 2018

Belize Creates Wildlife Corridor

Recently the Central American country Belize voted to protect one of the world's largest barrier reefs off its Caribbean coast.  But last month the former British colony also established one of the region's largest land corridors to allow wildlife, such as the iconic jaguar and tapir, to move freely between two nature reserves.  Private landowners in the corridor have agreed to establish a perpetual trust into which their lands will be placed for conservation management.  Approved by the government on February 13th, the 42 square mile corridor will connect the dry forest of the Shipstern Nature Reserve and the tropical forest of the Freshwater Creek Protected Area.  Corridors are highly important for the dispersal of genetically endangered animals.

two pumas in the Shipstern Reserve
The effort to establish wildlife corridors in Central America began with a consortium of conservation organizations proposing the "paseo pantera" or path of the panther.  The concept was broadened two decades ago by the Mesoamerica Biological Corridor Project, a visionary plan to connect forest remnants from Mexico to Columbia in recognition of the region's significant biodiversity.  Belize's new corridor is an important link in that project.  Although the paperwork for the corridor has been completed, the government must purchase 15 square miles of land at a cost of about $1 million.  Two major landowners must also sign agreements to place their land into trust.  Once again, Belize proves itself to be in the forefront of wild conservation.