Maya Mountain North Forest Reserve, Belize

The goal is to improve protection of threatened rainforests for their value to climate, communities and biodiversity through community involvement.

Maya Mountain North Forest Reserve
Maya Mountain North Forest Reserve

Project name: Maya Mountain North Forest Reserve: Conserving critical tropical rainforests in Belize

Project location: Maya Mountain North Forest Reserve, a 36,000 acre site situated in the Maya Golden Landscape of Southern Belize.



Project description:

In 2015, Ya'axché Conservation Trust (Ya'axché) was selected as co-manager for the 36,000-acre Maya Mountain North Forest Reserve (MMNFR). This area is recognized as a Key Biodiversity Area, and is one of the most threatened protected areas in Belize due to unsustainable farming, logging, poaching and resource extraction. It is a vital catchment area and is important for water security for commercial and subsistence agriculture areas for nearly 4,000 community members downstream.

Enforcement patrols conducted by Ya'axché into MMNFR have shown significant deforestation, however Ya'axché does not have the resources to support rangers on the ground to protect this vital reserve. Slash and burn agricultural methods have driven deforestation, while their secondary impact through escaped fires, have burned significant acreage. Ya'axché believes that through sustainable land use, based on long-term planning, future generations of Maya Golden Landscape (MGL) inhabitants will be able to live off the land, extract resources in a sustainable way, and conserve the forest.

This project aims to conduct community consultations to develop future management of MMNFR in partnership with local communities, as well as to protect MMNFR through enforcement patrols, and enhance knowledge on endangered species through biodiversity monitoring. Looking forward, it will improve living conditions and self-sufficiency of communities through building sustainable livelihoods. Make a difference in protecting one of the most important forest corridors in Mesoamerica by voting for Ya'axché.

Goal and purpose of the project:

The goal is to improve protection of threatened rainforests for their value to the climate, communities and biodiversity in Southern Belize through enhanced enforcement efforts and community involvement. The purpose of the project is to push for integrated protected area management in MMNFR through community consultations and increased enforcement efforts, which will help Ya'axché address deforestation and create sustainable livelihoods for local communities.

Maya Mountain North Forest Reserve
Maya Mountain North Forest Reserve

Motivation of the applicant / applicant team:

Ya'axché’s vision is harmony between nature and human development for the benefit of both. The motivation for this project is a belief that MMNFR can be saved if action is taken immediately, through community involvement in protected area management and sustainable land use. Ya'axché has evidence of significant deforestation in MMNFR, and its effects on local livelihoods which depend on its watershed, and this is why enforcement patrols and community consultations need to be carried out immediately.

Use of prize money:

Prize money will enable Ya'axché to immediately address deforestation in a highly threatened reserve. It will enable Ya'axché to implement an integrated approach to conserving MMNFR that would include six community consultations, increased ranger patrols in the reserve, and the development of sustainable livelihoods through the implementation of sustainable agricultural practices with local farmers.