Home to tropical wildlife, like the harpy eagle, scarlet macaw, Baird’s tapir, and jaguar, along with intact broadleaf forests stretching from the Maya Mountains to coastal mangroves and the Caribbean waters of the Mesoamerican Reef, Belize’s Maya Golden Landscape is a vital link within the Mesoamerican Biological Corridor.
Started by local Mayan leaders in 1997 and now recognized as a leading Belize conservation organization, the Ya’axché Conservation Trust works primarily with indigenous communities to preserve the Maya Golden Landscape. Alongside these local communities, Ya’axché fosters sustainable livelihoods, assists with protected area management for biodiversity conservation and provides vital environmental education.
Threats to the Maya Golden Landscape include predator/livestock interactions and unsustainable agricultural practices such as excessive burning, agrochemicals and the cultivation of riverbanks and steep slopes. This deforestation further exacerbates downstream pollution of biologically rich coral reefs. In response, Ya’axché is demonstrating to local communities that there are sustainable alternatives that can benefit them and the environment by providing assistance to small farmers to better manage and diversify their farms.
At the heart of Ya’axché’s work is Protected Areas Management. Managing the Golden Stream Corridor Preserve and co-managing with the Belize Forest Department the Bladen Nature Reserve and Maya Mountain North Forest Reserve, the Ya’axché ranger team conducts patrols, monitors biodiversity and enforces protected area laws. While working with local people to understand the benefits of protected areas, the Ya’axché rangers monitor the status of large mammal and bird populations throughout the Maya Golden Landscape. Keeping track of indicator species allows Ya’axché to use the science-based Integrated Landscape Management approach to conservation, a practice of planning how land will be used and resources will be managed in the most efficient and sustainable manner.
Round River in Belize
In April of 1994, the Chief Forest Officer of Belize requested assistance to investigate jaguar and livestock-related issues. In response, Round River conducted very preliminary studies. During this short effort, we stressed the erroneous nature of characterizing livestock predation by jaguar as the result of jaguars in need of management, as the maintenance of intact natural systems includes predators and predation, much as it includes the weather. As it has been widely shown that predator sensitive livestock management can reduce livestock predation to fairly insignificant levels, we are eager with an opportunity to work again in Belize.
Ya’axché Conservation Trust and Round River
Beginning in September of 2018 Round River is excited to return to Belize and partner with such a significant organization as the Ya’axché Conservation Trust. Round River staff and students will provide assistance to the conservation activities of the Ya’axché Conservation Trust.