Rosewood Landing, Belize

Name of Conservation Groups

Ya’axché Conservation Trust; and Fauna & Flora International

Status of registration of the group at the national level

Ya’axché Conservation Trust is a nonprofit nongovernmental organization in Belize; Fauna & Flora International is a UK registered charity

Governance and management structure of the group

Since its founding in 1997, Ya’axché Conservation Trust has worked towards harmony between nature and human development for the benefit of both. Ya’axché has a staff of 31, and the Executive Director reports directly to the Board of Directors. With an average annual budget of $2.5 million BZD, Ya’axché focuses on biodiversity conservation and sustainable local and indigenous livelihoods through responsible land- and natural-resource use in the Maya Golden Landscape, a 770,000-acre mosaic of globally important protected areas, private, state and community lands.

The three core protected areas Ya’axché manages, the Golden Stream Corridor Preserve, Bladen Nature Reserve and Maya Mountain North Forest Reserve, play a vital role in forming the only remaining broadleaf forest link between the Maya Mountains and the forested coastal plains of southern Belize. Ya’axché also manages a community agroforestry concession in the Maya Mountain North Forest Reserve, whereby a landless community group is being supported to implement cacao-based agroforestry.

Fauna & Flora International is a UK registered charity and a US nonprofit. As the world’s oldest international wildlife conservation organization, FFI has built a reputation for its pioneering work and science-based approach to conservation. Today we have over 140 projects in more than 40 countries. FFI has a proven track record in developing locally sustainable conservation actions and working closely with local communities, but we are also active at national and international levels, working with government and big business to effect real change.

Exact location of land to be purchased 

16°15’17.5″N 88°43’57.4″W

Size of purchasable land 

30.35 hectares

Size of suggested purchased land for this application 

30.35 hectares

Short description of the area and the land to be purchased

In southern Belize, the Maya Golden Landscape (MGL) is a mosaic of globally important protected areas, private, state and community lands. MGL is the home to over 337 species of birds, 20 of fish, 93 of mammals and 92 reptiles, including several endangered species: 2 plant, 2 bird and 3 mammal (see sidebar).

It also provides invaluable environmental goods and services to the predominantly indigenous Maya population (who make up 69% of the district’s population), who face high poverty (46% of the district’s population are below the poverty line) and rely on the region’s natural resources for their livelihoods.

Rosewood Landing forms a part of this majestic landscape, which is the primary southern biological corridor for Belize and the only remaining broadleaf forest link between the Maya Mountains (the Selva Maya) and the forested coastal plains of southern Belize. Rosewood Landing is one of the most biodiversity-rich and geographically unique areas within the Mesoamerican Biological Corridor and forms a significant portion of the Key Biodiversity Area of the Maya Mountain Massif. The land comprises dwarf mangrove areas, riparian forest and lowland broadleaf forest.

This parcel of land is adjacent to the Golden Stream River, which empties into the Port Honduras Marine Reserve and the Belize Barrier Reef System. Rosewood Landing provides water security for commercial and subsistence agriculture for the ten indigenous communities downstream.

Main threats

Rosewood Landing is one of the few intact parcels in the highly threatened lowlands of the Maya Golden Landscape, where rapid agricultural expansion erodes forest connectivity. It is a narrow and fragile haven for wildlife, with mounting pressures on its borders.

Due to the lack of resources found in communal lands, the area is under great threat from illegal activities. Community members are highly dependent on the natural resources found in the forest. Intermittent patrols in the area have revealed the extraction of timber, poaching of birds, looting of Maya ruins, and extensive deforestation.

Like many traditional farmers, the communities that buffer the protected areas resort to “slash-and-burn” agricultural techniques, clearing and burning the land once the soil becomes infertile or the crop yield decreases, and then moving on to a new parcel of land, in some cases within protected areas. Fires often escape from the slash-and-burn areas and cause further threats to biodiversity. Accordingly FFI and Ya’axché are working together to promote smart agriculture practices in these communities.

Characterized by a rising population and expanding agricultural frontier, the adjacent areas in the Toledo District face rapid land conversion into farms, large-scale agriculture and cattle rearing.

Estimated value of a single hectare

US$1,000

Long-term conservation plan for the purchased land

Longer-term conservation, in collaboration with local indigenous communities, will require significant effort. Ya’axché owns and manages the adjacent Golden Stream Corridor Preserve and has proven its outstanding ability to work with Mayan communities to improve their livelihoods, use their land sustainably and conserve adjacent forests and wildlife.

Ya’axché conducts regular and consistent patrols within its managed areas. This is coupled with research and monitoring to collect vital information for better management decisions. Ya’axché will work in tandem with local communities to ensure that there is proper awareness of these important protected areas, and at the same time, involve the communities in local management through employment opportunities and enhance livelihoods through the promotion of smart agricultural practices. Ya’axché will ensure that the area is well managed and adheres to the conservation standards of the Belize’s national protected areas.