In the spotlight: Rainforest conservation success in Belize

Nestled deep in the sub-tropical forests of northern Belize, a small country in Central America about the size of Wales, is the Rio Bravo Conservation and Management Area

This 260,000 acre nature reserve, run by local conservation organisation Programme for Belize, is home to a wealth of wildlife; two top predators, the puma and jaguar, roam its forests while charismatic spider and howler monkeys make regular appearances in the tree top canopy.

Spider monkeys in Belize's rainforest © Bethan John

A hotspot for birders, the reserve is a haven for 390 species and welcomes 25 migrants, with knowledgeable guides on hand to help you tick-off your Life List.

Programme for Belize has been protecting this rainforest for over two decades after vital funding from the World Land Trust, a UK-based conservation charity. To support the reserve’s ongoing conservation, Programme for Belize run two eco-tourism sites offering accommodation in the heart of the forest for guided or independent hiking, wildlife spotting, and exploration of an ancient Mayan archeological site.

This low-impact rainforest experience, suited to range of budgets, directly supports the continued protection of the reserve’s wildlife and creates jobs for surrounding rural communities.

Importantly, Programme for Belize’s eco-tourism sites are also function as research stations and they run many programmes, including pine savannah protection to save the endangered Yellow-Headed parrot, a carbon offsetting initiative with the Nature Conservancy, and a sustainable timber extraction programme.

Programme for Belize also oraganise many training workshops throughout the year, often hosting international university students who stay at the reserve to carry out research and learn more about ecology – training and inspiring the conservationists of the future.

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