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Belizean Coastal Zone (Spanish)


Estrategia para el éxito

• To promote development through community participation • Sensitize the community with conservation issues through public awareness and environmental education programs on marine and coastal conservation • Protect and conserve the Belize Barrier Reef, its cayes and resources through the establishment of projects, research programs and the involvement in regional and international organizations and programs/activities • Advocate for conservation and environmentally friendly practices

Gente y Lugares

Región de la campaña

América Central, Belice, América Latina y el Caribe

Amenazas para la conservación participa

Áreas de turismo y recreación , Líneas de navegación , Agricultura y acuacultura , Uso de recursos biológicos , Incursiones humanas y disturbios

Threat Description

Manatees are directly affected by illegal hunting (poaching) which has been a common practice throughout the years since the meat was used for food, and the bones were used to make trinkets and for medicinal purposes. However, poaching has decreased in recent years with the passing of the Wildlife Protection Act of 1981, which protects the manatees. There are still instances of illegal hunting. Pollution and the misuse of fishing gear also affect the manatees living along the coast of Belize because people do not know or do not care. Manatees can get entwined and trapped in the nets causing the appendages of the animal to become infected, amputated and even cause the death of the animal. The accidental ingestion of hooks and other fishing gear by manatees can cause the digestive system of the manatee to be severely damaged causing death. Habitat destruction has been one of the most important factors that affect the manatees in Belize. Increased tourism has caused the development of the coastal zone, which has been detrimental to the survival of the manatees. Mangrove destruction causes erosion which in turn results in sedimentation and causes sea grass destruction as sand settles on the sea grass which is the manatees’ primary food source. Moreover, the fact that land is cleared for agricultural purposes results in fertilizer and pesticide run-off which causes eutrophication and damages the vegetation, this in turn affects the marine ecosystem. This also causes changes in salinity, pH and the amount of light received which affects marine organisms. The damages caused on the marine vegetation affects the manatees since sea grass is their primary food source. Human waste disposal is a problem in some areas which are relatively close to water bodies, posing a problem to marine life. This effluent organic waste causes eutrophication and affects the vegetation on which manatees (and other wildlife) feed. This problem is exacerbated by a lack of environmental outreach and a lack of monitoring. Water craft collisions are also a common factor affecting manatees. This is caused by uncontrolled speeding of boats. Manatee/boat collisions have been a source of manatee deaths although not on a large scale (there are laws regulating watercraft speed). However, the laws are not followed by all watercraft operators and there is poor enforcement.

Descripción del sitio

The coastal zone of Belize is of great importance to the country and its people. This is the point where the land and sea converge providing countless organisms with a habitat in which to feed and breed, many of these organisms are critical to the economic development of Belize, whether they be the reefs that provide nursery grounds for food fish, or protective barriers against storm surge; or the mangroves that trap silt or cayes that lures tourists to their pristine shores and dive sites. The coastal zone includes old coastal terraces, the low plain, the inner lagoon, the Barrier Reef and the cayes and three atolls. The rivers of Belize such as the Rio Hondo and the New River carry sediment into the Corozal Bay; while the Northern River, the Belize River and the Sibun River deposit the sediments that they carry into the channel located between the mainland and the Barrier Reef. It is these sediments and the mangroves that have created the swampy, coastal area which also forms an important ecosystem in the coastal zone. The Barrier Reef -- which is one of Belize’s most valuable resources -- was formed over millennia by the slow build-up of animals called corals. These simple organisms comprise colonies of coral polyps that have a hard exterior composed of calcite. Depending on water depth, salinity conditions and geographic and oceanic factors reefs may be characterised as being fringing reefs which forms “a shelf” around an island, a barrier reef which is a rough ring or line and is found at a distance from an island or coast; and atolls which are reef remnants that once surrounded an island that has subsequently sunk. Belize has three atolls namely, Lighthouse reef, Glovers’ reef and Turneffe Islands, and the longest barrier reef in the Western hemisphere.

Other Protected Area Status or Special Designation

World Heritage Site

Datos del sitio

Tamaño total del hábitat (hectáreas) 96300
Tamaño del hábitat objetivo (hectáreas) 38600
Población objetivo total 87600

Resumen del total de la población

Belize is populated by people of different ethnicities, including Mestizos, Creoles and Garifunas, with significant minorities of Mennonites, East Indians, Chinese and East Indians. The total population of the communities along the coast of Belize is estimated at 87,235 people.

Audiencias Meta

SegmentoPersonas Resumen


Flagship Species

the Floridian manatee (Trichechus manatus latitrostris) which mostly resides along Florida and the Antillean subspecies (Trichechus manatus manatus) which is native to Belize and other neighbouring countries in Central America (Auil, 1998). The West Indian Antillean manatee (Trichechus manatus manatus) is a large, gentle slow moving marine mammal. It can grow up to thirteen feet in length and can weigh up to 3,000 pounds. However, the average manatee grows to be 10 feet long and 1,000 to 1,200 pounds. The manatee is of a grey colour. It has front flippers and a flat paddle shaped tail. Manatees are herbivores, that is, they mostly feed on marine vegetation, such as sea grass of which there are several types in Belize. They feed on turtle grass, manatee grass, shoal grass and red mangrove. They consume about 60 to 100 pounds of marine vegetation which is about 10% of their body weight . It faces many threats such as boat related accidents, improper human waste disposal, habitat destruction to mention a few. Therefore, it is essential that the people be made aware of the factors that can lead to the extinction of the species. Moreover, the habitat is home to countless other organisms. The sea grass beds and mangroves for example, apart from providing food for the manatees is a nesting and resting ground for lobster, shrimp, small fishes, turtles which are also endangered, and other marine organisms.

Información roja

# of species on IUCN Red List of Threatened Species list3
List names of IUCN Red List of Threatened Species at siteTrichechus manatus
red-footed booby

Información endémica

Cantidad de especies endémicas 3
Enumerar nombres de especies endémicas en el lugar Belizean Atoll Gecko
Mangrove rivulus
Cave chulín

Actividad de Campaña

Acciones de Conservación siendo usadas

Protección de tierra y agua , Educación y concientización

Objetivos y Resultados

Resumen de los resultados finales

Green Reef These challenges provided us with lessons learned. One of the most important lessons was the need for effective logistics management. With a national campaign of this magnitude, there are an infinite number of details that need to be worked out and this can be very difficult for a person to manage, who is constantly moving from community to community. This issue was addressed by close communication between the educator, Green Reef, and RARE. It was also further addressed by the hiring of a technical assistant to assist the educator with logistics, including the workshop on boat speed limit zones and finance reporting. Hand in hand with effective logistics management, we learned about the need for effective communication. This proved difficult with many people working on the project that lived throughout Belize and were travelling within Belize and internationally. The educator was provided with a cell phone in order to keep in contact with Green Reef and RARE while travelling. Internet access was also a difficulty, but the majority of communities had Internet cafes that the educator could use. Communication challenges were increased when the project van was broken into and the educator’s cell phone and laptop were stolen. This led to a major setback, but the educator acquired another phone and recreated what documents she could from what was lost. Communication between the funders and Green Reef was also difficult and these difficulties should have been addressed earlier on. The need for reliable transportation and the ability to quickly repair any damage that occurs to the project vehicle was also a lesson learned. Another lesson learned was the need for continuity of the staff, especially the educator. As the first educator left the project and roles were added and changed in the project, it took time to acquaint each person with the project. It also was difficult to continue at the same pace, because the educator who finished the project did not have the training from the University of Kent which the first educator had access to. Rare Obviously one of the damaging factors that contributed to the various limitations and challenges found throughout the year had to do with the original conservation educator leaving the post immediately after the project work plan had been devised. To prevent another situation like this there are two points that need to be addressed. The first is to conduct more rigorously the interviewing and selection process. Rare now ensures that the student is interviewed thoroughly. The second point is to ensure that the lead agency develops a letter of understanding between the student, particularly in the case where the student has not been working with the institution and is becoming a new staff member. The LOU must hold the student responsible for fulfilling the studying and implementation phases of the program. The results of the campaign prove that the student must focus on the SMART goals and have all the materials printed and distributed before hand. Certainly the results of the campaign could have been increased and achieved larger impacts. The number of tasks accomplished increases the possibilities of people learning and absorbing the key messages. On this point there are three considerations. The first is that the lead agency must work closely with the educator in order to ensure that the student is relating to the work plan effectively and mentor the person as much as possible. The second point is that identifying a publishing company that can do a variety of the materials indeed is excellent for the program in that the student does not have to seek different services from various sources. For GreenReef, Printech did not only provide all the services but also donated a considerably large amount of materials such as coloring booklets, calendars and A-Z booklets. The funding for these materials was very low and if the children today can appreciate the wonderful products of the project, it has been largely because of Printech. GreenReef’s President, Mito Paz has a close working relationship with Printech and this helped tremendously. The third point refers to funding. It is critically important for the sum of money for all materials to be there on time and perhaps even in advance time at the beginning of the program implementation phase. In the case of GreenReef having this funding available would have relieved the backlog on products.

Objetivos SMART (inteligentes)

Objective 1: By December 2003, 93% of school children and youths from the 18 communities including Belize City will know of the natural history (habitat, breeding, feeding habits) and characteristics of the manatees.
Objective 2: By December 2003, 78% (at present 63.3%) of the people in these communities will know the laws and regulations that protect the manatee (from illegal hunting) as an endangered species.
Objective 3: By December 2003 a speed limit regulation that protects manatees from speeding boats will be devised and come into effect.  This will be achieved through lobbying with various organizations and agencies as well as with the increasing support from the general public.  
Objective 4: By the end of next year, 55% of the people, including fishermen and law enforcement officers in the 18 different target communities and Belize City along the coast of Belize will know the protected areas and their names as well as the regulations that govern these protected areas.

Cantidad de personas encuestadas


Porcentaje de la población encuestadas


Código y Fechas

Código del proyecto : BELIK2

Fechas de campaña : 2002-01-15 - 2005-02-01

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