The Toledo Institute for Development and Environment (TIDE) works to reduce poverty and conserve biodiversity in some of the poorest areas of the Central American nation of Belize. TIDE was recognized for its innovative work and extraordinary achievements at the UN World Summit on Sustainable Development in Johannesburg, South Africa, where it was awarded the 2002 Equator Prize by the UN Development Program.
By focusing its efforts on guide certification programs, skills training and ecotourism, TIDE has been able to improve the lives of local residents while protecting Belize's unparalleled natural beauty.
The Nature Conservancy and TIDE
To help TIDE protect the natural wonder and resources of Belize, The Nature Conservancy provides support and training in strategic planning, financial management, site conservation planning and mapping, marine and terrestrial stewardship methods and community outreach techniques.
Belize Conservation Facts:
- Some 93% of Belize is covered by forests.
- Belize is home to more than 220 tree species and 350 species of birds.
- The second largest barrier reef in the world lies off the coast of Belize.
- Jaguars and four other large cat species prowl the wild places of Belize.
- Belize has the world's second-largest population of West-Indian manatees with fewer than 300.
- Maya Mountain Marine Corridor
In August 2001, The Nature Conservancy helped facilitate a landmark debt-for-nature swap in the Maya Mountain Marine Corridor, a million-acre landscape that links the crest of the Maya Mountains to the Meso-American Barrier Reef. Through this transaction, much of this land was turned over to TIDE for local conservation management. The corridor is a constellation of protected areas encompassing exemplary tropical rain forests and pine savannas, seven intact watersheds, coastal wetlands and mangrove forests, spectacular coral reefs and more than 100 offshore cayes.
- Port Honduras
Port Honduras is a marine reserve in Belize that had been victimized by illegal poaching. To fight this threat, TIDE trained park rangers to patrol the exploited area. The deployment of park rangers led to a reduction in poaching and manatee slaughters.
- Sharing Strategies
The Nature Conservancy has partnered with TIDE to share conservation strategies and tactics. For example, the Ohio Chapter of the Conservancy hosted scientists from TIDE and shared with them their techniques for determining species composition in fresh-water habitats. The Ohio Chapter and Belize have also allied to study the migratory habits of more than 165 species of birds that spend their summers in Ohio and their winters in Belize.