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Belize

Maya Mountain Marine Corridor

Belize's Maya Mountain Marine Corridor (MMMC) hosts one of the world's richest assemblages of biodiversity. A million-acre landscape of protected areas that links the crest of the Maya Mountains to the Mesoamerican Reef, MMMC is home to more than 220 tree species and 350 species of birds. 

This constellation of protected areas encompasses spectacular natural areas, such as:
• tropical rainforests
• pine savannas
• coastal wetlands 
coral reefs
• coastal wetlands
• offshore cayes

Location

Extending from southwestern Belize's Maya Mountains east to the Caribbean Sea, the corridor is composed of a patchwork of protected areas, including Bladen Nature Reserve, Maya Mountain Forest Reserve, Payne's Creek National Park, Port Honduras Marine Reserve and Sapodilla Cayes Marine Reserve.

Animals

The MMMC is home to a stunning array of wildlife, such as:
jaguars
• crocodiles
• West Indian manatees
• lobsters
• conch
• scarlet macaws
• parrots

Plants

A wide variety of plants call the MMMC home, too:
• orchids
• mahogany
• tropical rain forests
• pine savannas
• mangrove forests

Why the Conservancy Works Here

In the Maya Mountain Marine Corridor, The Nature Conservancy focuses on the entire landscape, from the ridges of the Maya Mountains to the reefs of the Mesoamerican Reef. As a connected ecosystem, we can help protect endangered marine environments by guarding against agricultural runoff that originates in the mountains and reaches the sea through rivers and streams.

What the Conservancy Is Doing

The Conservancy is working with local partner Toledo Institute for Development and Environment (TIDE) on the following projects:

  • Assisting in managing Port Honduras Marine Reserve, whose coastal forests, rivers and coral cays shelter manatees, lobsters, conch, commercial fish stocks, parrots, orchids, and mahogany — all susceptible to illegal poaching. Since TIDE's rangers began patrolling the exploited area, manatee slaughters have been markedly reduced — an important victory, as Belize hosts the world's second largest population of this species with fewer than 300 animals.
  • The purchase of 4,200 acres of tropical forest along the Rio Grande River, thanks to The Conservancy's Ohio Chapter, which shares more than 50 species of migratory birds with Belize.
  • Evaluating and monitoring fresh water — one of the main connectors between the ridges of the Maya Mountains and the coastal reef.
  • Introducing alternative sources of income in southern Belize, such as saltwater flyfishing and ecotouism guiding, to fishermen who once overfished the local waters. Fishermen also have been trained as rangers to patrol the protected areas and provide environmental education to surrounding communities.
  • Organizing a net exchange program to buy back fish and lobster gillnets from fishermen in southern Belize who still use them, training them to capture only market-bound species at a sustainable rate.

 

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