Belize’s world famous coral reefs and rainforests at risk
March 3, 2008
Belize’s world famous coral reefs and tropical forests are increasingly vulnerable to environmental problems which could impact its tourism-dependent economy, argues a Belizean ecologist writing in the inaugural issue of the open access e-journal Tropical Conservation Science.
Dr Colin A. Young of Galen University in Belize, says that ecosystems in Belize face a number of rising threats, including high deforestation rates (at 2.3 percent the deforestation rate is twice that of Central America), improper solid waste management, rapid coastal development, increasing poverty, weak institutional and legal frameworks, climate change, and the recent discovery of sweet crude oil. He says that without improving management of protected areas, improving local participation in conservation, and stimulating interest in science among Belizean students, “the environment that has been the mainstay of the Belizean economy will be severely impacted.”
Young makes several recommendations for addressing negative environmental trends in Belize, including increasing funding for conservation-oriented research; adopting a stronger national protected areas policy; encouraging national and international NGOs to pool their research expertise and financial resources to facilitate the establishment of new conservation areas and strategies; implementing a “conservation” tax on oil production; promoting conservation-driven livelihoods for local communities; and developing an ecosystem services payment system.
Young, C. 2008. Belize’s Ecosystems: Threats and Challenges to Conservation in Belize. Tropical Conservation Science 1 (1):6-17.