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Belize Conservation Fund newsletter

Januar y 2011

Help for the Yellow-headed Parrot Found only in Mexico and Northern Central America, the Yellow-headed Parrot (Amazona oratrix) is listed as endangered by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) because the survival is threatened by habitat loss and the illegal pet trade. In the last two decades the population of this gorgeous parrot has decreased from 70,000 to 7,000 individuals. Both TIDE and the Programme for Belize have initiated programs to protect and rebuild the population of the Yellow-headed Parrot. Thanks to funds raised by the Belize Conservation Fund and the Minnasota Zoo, the Programme for Belize has implemented a recovery program to protect these parrots in the Rio Bravo Conservation and Management Area (RBCMA). By strengthening its efforts and increasing the numbers of rangers

to help:

Please send contributions to

Belize Conservation Fund c/o Massachusetts Audubon Society 208 South Great Road, Lincoln, MA 01773 Or call Bancroft Poor/Karen O’Neill at 800-289-9504

during the breeding season PfB can prevent poachers from removing baby parrots from their nesting cavities. Rangers will now be present onsite to monitor and protect the birds and their habitat and stop poachers from cutting down and destroying the trees and taking the parrots. Rangers are also collecting data on the Rio Bravo Yellow-headed Parrots, reporting an increase in nesting success in 2010. As part of the initiative, PfB has produced an education flyer with information about the Yellowheaded Parrot’s importance for distribution in the local communities. Conservation awareness is a key component of this and other wildlife protection projects carried out by Programme for Belize. Workshops and education seminars are offered in the villages surrounding Rio Bravo. For videos and other resources visit www.

Belize Conservation Fund Newsletter

Gift shop renovations

New office/reception building

New reception area for guests

Field Station Refurbishment— La Milpa Programme for Belize completed A brand-new office/reception a major overhaul of its La Milpa area was built for the station Field Station in Spring 2010, thanks manager. Its central location will to a $85,000 grant to enhance its improve guest relations, welcoming tourism support facilities, dormitory, visitors with an attractive entryway and cabanas in the Rio Bravo to the field station. Here the station Conservation and Management Area. manager provides site management and oversight of all operations at La Four cabanas were repaired and Milpa. upgraded, making them more aesthetically pleasing and comfortable The funding for this project now for nature tourists. The state-of-theenables Programme for Belize art green student dormitory received to enhance the level of service a complete facelift of the interior and to tourists at the Rio Bravo exterior, including a new zinc roof, Conservation and Management Area. replacement of porches, and realigned While they continue to be inspired by and rescreened windows. New the archeological site, the hiking trails fixtures were also installed. around the lodging, and the wonderful Belizean-style food, guests will now Additional buildings underwent enjoy higher quality accommodations. extensive repair and construction We hope they will then spread including the staff quarters, and the the word about La Milpa thereby garage and maintenance building. The gift shop was relocated and expanded increasing visitors and tourists, all of whom are vital to Rio Bravo’s to the lower floor near the dining sustainability over the long term. room. Added space allows for easier movement so guests can browse through the many souvenirs and Programme for Belize gift items. Lovely glass shelving, new continues to be overwhelmingly wooden clothing racks, a post card grateful for the funds that stand, and tiled floors also enhance made this project possible and the gift shop.

would like to thank our friends at Mass Audubon and most importantly Ms. Linda Wallace and the Wallace Foundation.

Newly planted fruit/shade trees

Newly renovated bedroom in cabana

Take an Educational Vacation in a Tropical Wilderness

Scholarships for Students Residing Near Rio Bravo

Hoy no manana —Today not tomorrow -motto of Belize Rural High School

At La Milpa Field Station, explore the system of trails through tropical forest and learn from a local guide about Programme for Belize-sponsored projects that help generate income for surrounding villages while using the forest sustainably. A visit to the unparalleled La Milpa Archeological Site, currently undergoing excavation, is another daytime adventure for ecotourists at Rio Bravo. Accommodations are in rustic cabanas or dormitories, and the hearty fare includes delicious local and American meals, including vegetarian options. Students groups, teachers, and lifelong learners are invited to embark on an enlightening educational experience while enjoying a tropical retreat at Rio Bravo Conservation and Management Area in northern Belize. Two field stations offer opportunities for birding and tropical ecology programs. Hill Bank Field Station, located on the New River Lagoon, serves as a base for research of sustainable forest management and specialized tourism that incorporates the research into the visitor activities. Also available are scenic boat rides on the New River and hiking the nature trails for exceptional birdwatching. A DVD is available with details about the facilities. Call Banks Poor at Mass Audubon, 781-259-2110, for more information.

For the 2009-2010 school year, Programme for Belize awarded scholarships to students in buffer communities near the Rio Bravo Conservation and Management Area (RBCMA). Goals of the scholarship program are to further outreach efforts benefiting surrounding towns and to share information about PfB’s work to conserve, protect, and develop the 265,000-acre tropical reserve in a sustainable manner. Six area students were awarded these scholarships—three who attend the Belize Rural High School in Double Head Cabbage serving nine communities in the Belize River Valley, with grants provided by Hill Bank Field Station; and three enrolled at the Belize High School of Agriculture serving northerly villages, with grants provided by La Milpa Field Station.

Applicants wrote essays on the importance of conserving protected areas in the region, particularly the Rio Bravo Conservation and Management Area. The following individuals received 2009-2010 scholarships—Belize High School of Agriculture: Jennifer Coye of Trinidad, Emmanuel Yam of San Lazaro, and Oralys Gongora of Trinidad; Belize Rural High School: Ken Rowland of Double Head Cabbage; Delbert Thompson of Double Head Cabbage; Shamelia Rowland of Double Head Cabbage. These grants are integral to nurturing a positive relationship with PfB’s neighbors in northwestern Belize. Today’s scholarship recipients and their classmates will be tomorrow’s stewards of their own priceless natural heritage.

TIDE Scholarship Recipient For the 2009-2010 school year, Crislyn Coye of Cattle Land Village received a scholarship, enabling her to attend Toledo Community College for her second year and to obtain the necessary textbooks for her classes, which include Math, English, Science, Social Studies, and Spanish. “It was a very successful year for me,” says Crislyn. “I was able to achieve good grades in all subjects.” Crislyn is majoring in business with the goal of becoming a CPA. “I have developed a great interest in being an entrepreneur,” she says, “providing service to the public and to the communities where I live.” Crislyn expressed her gratitude and “a great thank you to all who have contributed to the goodness of this gesture.”

Januar y 2011 Pine Savanna in Payne’s Creek National Park

TIDE Work and Mission The Toledo Institute for the Environment (TIDE), founded in 1997, is an award-winning nonprofit in the southernmost district of Belize with the mission to foster community participation in resource management and sustainable use of ecosystems within the Maya Mountain Marine Corridor of southern Belize for the benefit of present and future generations. With just 36 staff, they work to foster community participation in resource management and sustainable use of ecosystems within the Maya Mountain Marine Corridor. Innovative programs managed by TIDE prevent habitat and biodiversity loss and focus on providing alternative and environmentally friendly means for local residents to earn a living. TIDE’s board of directors is committed to collaboration with local, national, and international partners. In addition to protecting the marine habitat, TIDE has a clear and compelling vision for the health of the Pine Savannas that are part of Payne’s Creek National Park and part of the Maya Mountain Marine Corridor Conservation Action Strategy. The vision is simple – eliminate anthropogenic wildfire, improve the stand structure of the Caribbean Pine, and stop poaching of the Yellow-headed Parrot. The plan uses the Yellow-headed Parrot (Amazona oratrix) as a symbol and indicator of health of the Pine Savannas. Payne’s Creek National Park is a 37,680-acre preserve in Toledo with extensive pine savannas dominated by Caribbean pine, which supports a rich fauna including such rare birds as the Jabiru, Aplomado Falcon, and Yellow-headed Parrot. TIDE is preserving pine savanna habitat through wildfire prevention with a goal to restore normal stand structure and allow natural regeneration.

Buffer communities Monkey River, Punta Negra, and Punta Gorda work with TIDE to manage the park, utilizing sustainable practices that preserve the wildlife and habitat. Local guides lead visitors on the nature trails and in the park to view the abundant and impressive wildlife— favorites are the howler monkeys, which are easy to see foraging and lounging in the tropical trees such as cecropia; and manatees, eating aquatic vegetation in the warm coastal waters. Patrolling natural areas to prevent illegal activities such as poaching Yellow-headed Parrot nests and educational outreach are two resource protection strategies are central to TIDE’s efforts. This year village meetings were held in Trio and Bladen to inform inhabitants of the broader community about the negative impacts of wildfires and the importance of protecting the endangered Yellow-headed Parrot. TIDE also works to encourage sustainable farming practices and illegal logging to preserve the natural resources of southern Belize.

According to TIDE Executive Director Celia Mahung, “Without funders, we wouldn’t be able to effectively manage the delicate pristine ecosystems that support the natural wonders of Belize.”

The elimination of uncontrolled wild fires is a key factor to restore a normal stand structure allowing a natural regeneration of the Caribbean Pine.

Belize Conservation Fund Newsletter

Januar y 2011

Make A Donation To make a donation to support the work of Programme for Belize (PfB) or to The Toledo Institute for Developmental and Environment (TIDE), please complete this form and return to:

Massachusetts Audubon Society Belize Conservation Fund 208 South Great Road Lincoln, MA 01773 Name Address City State ZIP Phone E-mail ___Yes, I would like to make a donation

Donation Information

Enclosed check ____________ Checks should be made payable to Mass Audubon –Belize Conservation Fund or please charge my credit card for the amount of______ VISA___MC___ Card Exp:_________ Signature

Tody Motmot at La Milpa—Rio Bravo visitors have a golden opportunity to see one of the most sought-after and elusive deep-forest birds. This shy secretive species can be found in a few select locations at La Milpa Field Station: among the ruins at the Maya site, along the Mahogany Trail (where this photo was taken), and in a few other hidden spots on the grounds. During mating season, this colorful diminutive motmot pierces the dawn with its deep hoot while swinging its tail from side to side like a pendulum.

Toledo Institute for Development and Environment (TIDE) The Toledo Institute for Development and Environment (TIDE) was founded in 1997 to meet the growing environmental and development needs of the Toledo District, the southernmost district of Belize. TIDE was conceived as a grassroots initiative in response to the negative environmental effects from activities such as manatee poaching, illegal fishing, illegal logging, destructive farming methods, and other types of unsustainable development. Initially started by volunteers, TIDE has now grown to include 20 paid staff. TIDE’s mission is to research, monitor, and help manage Toledo’s natural resources. The Maya Mountain Marine Area Corridor stretches from the lush pristine forests of the Maya Mountains to the white sand beaches and spectacular array of colors of the Belize

Barrier Reef System World Heritage Site. In addition, TIDE assists planning responsible tourism and other environmentally sustainable economic alternatives by providing training and support to local residents. Toledo Institute for Development and Environment (TIDE) also leads ecotourism expeditions throughout Belize, in addition to other wildlife conservation and monitoring activities. Contact Information: Celia Mahung, Executive Director Toledo Institute for Development and Environment, Punta Gorda Town, Belize

The Programme for Belize (PfB) is a Belizean, nonprofit organization, established in 1988, to conserve the natural heritage of Belize and to promote wise use of its natural resources. The Rio Bravo Conservation and Management Area (RBCMA) is its flagship project where Programme for Belize demonstrates the practical application of its principles.

the RBCMA, PfB conducts research, conservation education, professional training and promotes environmental awareness among visitors. In addition, the forests of the Rio Bravo Conservation and Management Area are important sites for a carbon sequestration project. Here, four million tons of carbon will be sequestered for generations to come.

Since its inception, PfB has secured 260,000 acres of forest in northwestern Belize that was otherwise destined for clearance. The RBCMA represents approximately 4 percent of Belize’s total land area and is home to a rich sample of biodiversity including: 400 species of birds, 200 species of trees, 70 species of mammals and 12 endangered animal species. On

Contact Information: Edilberto Romero, Executive Director Programme for Belize, Belize City, Belize Photos thanks to B. Rodriguez, S. Weinreb, D. Larson, R. Laubach, K. O’Neill, M. Vokey.

Belize Newsletter Full  

Full Belize Newsletter January 2011

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