The Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries, Forestry, the Environment, Sustainable Development and Immigration signed into law an order to declare the North-eastern Biological Corridor which comes into effect on January 22, 2020. The enactment of this order carries out Cabinet’s decision to protect important forests situated in the sugar cane belt in order to protect the biological connectivity of protected areas and safeguard the ecosystem services provided by these forests, including watershed preservation and rain formation.
The declaration of the North-eastern Biological Corridor marks the beginning of a new era and culture of conservation for Belize. The Government commits to replicating this activity in other parts of the country in order to protect and sustainably utilize forest and other natural resources, thereby ensuring that the social, environmental, and economic benefits afforded by forests are enjoyed by Belize’s current and future generations.
The North-eastern Biological Corridor consists of almost 28,000 hectares of land, which includes 13,600 hectares of private lands and the areas known as the Freshwater Creek Forest Reserve and the Honey Camp National Park. It includes lowland broadleaf forests, mangroves, littoral forest, freshwater lagoons, and wetlands. The North-eastern Biological Corridor is home to over 1,000 species of plants and animals. It is important to set aside the area for this type of use because it provides vital ecosystems services such as pollination, water retention and release, rain formation and flood mitigation to the surrounding sugarcane, beans, rice croplands and adjacent communities. The natural ecosystems within the area also provide for income generation for local communities through the provision of game meat, timber and employment opportunities with the local organizations that help to manage and protect the area.
This achievement is the culmination of over 20 years of tireless efforts and dedication of the people of Belize. It is the manifestation of a celebrated partnership among the Government of Belize, the conservation NGO community, stakeholder communities, international conservation partners and the private sector. The Ministry thanks all its partners, and especially thanks the Corozal Sustainable Future Initiative, Corozal Timber Company Limited, and the communities of Fire Burn, Neuland Reinlander Mennonite Church, and Santa Martha for their commitment to this endeavour.