230,000 Acres of Tropical Rainforest Protected as Biodiversity Hotspot For Jaguars in Belize

230,000 Acres of Tropical Rainforest Protected as Biodiversity Hotspot For Jaguars in Belize

The Belize Maya Forest is being protected by conservationists so jaguars and others can thrive.

Social & Lifestyle

Decades ago, a radical idea was born to protect the Maya Forest in Belize. What if NGOs, the government, community leaders, and businesses could form a coalition to conserve one of the world’s last remaining pristine rainforests?

Now that dream is a reality, with more than a dozen organizations coming together to protect 236,000 acres of land that represents an irreplaceable linchpin in the conservation of the largest remaining tropical forests in the Americas, outside the Amazon.

This new protected area is contiguous with and nearly doubles the size of the adjacent Rio Bravo Conservation Management Area previously protected through efforts led by The Nature Conservancy. Combined, it represents 9% of the landmass of Belize and secures a vital wildlife corridor in Central America’s dwindling forests.

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Together, these new protections will fill a critical gap in a vast forest network called the Selva Maya—38 million acres of forest that includes 11 million acres of parks and protected areas across Central America.

A new dawn

Since 2011, the Maya Forest Corridor that connects Belize’s Maya Mountain Massif to the Belize Maya Forest has faced deforestation rates almost four times the national average, driven primarily by clearing land for industrial-scale agriculture. That was the fate that seemed very likely for this tract of land as well.

Securing protection for this climate and nature-critical ecosystem means preserving habitat for some of the world’s most iconic wildlife species like jaguars and ocelots, as well as preserving a significant living carbon reserve that represents a natural solution to climate change.