Status of registration
501(c)(3) Nonprofit Organization (US) and NGO (Belize)
Governance and management structure of the group
Turneffe Atoll Trust (TAT) was established in 2002 and has two full-time staff members and an eleven-member board of directors. TAT works with the Turneffe Atoll Coastal Advisory Committee, which is comprised of various stakeholders, such as NGOs, governmental agencies, fishermen and private businesses. Over the past ten years TAT has led planning for the conservation of Turneffe Atoll in conjunction with the Belize Coastal Zone Management Authority and Institute. TAT also successfully advocated for catch-and-release legislation and for Turneffe’s designation as a marine reserve.
Exact location, including geographic coordinates
Turneffe Atoll is located 50 kilometres east of Belize City in the Caribbean Sea. N 17°26’21.63′′, W 87°49′56.01′′
Short description of the area and the land to be purchased
Turneffe Atoll is the largest of three offshore atolls located 50 kilometres east of Belize City. Turneffe is one of the best-developed atolls of the Mesoamerican Reef region. It is made up of more than 150 islands of savannah, littoral forest and intact mangrove forests and considered a global ecological hotspot for marine biodiversity. Roughly a quarter of the total land ownership is private and only six locations (80 hectares) have been developed for tourism.
Turneffe Atoll faces numerous threats because of its close proximity to Belize City. The highest threats identified are:
- pressure from fishing, especially unsustainable practices
- development and dredging, leading to the destruction of habitats
- extraction of non-timber products
The privately owned land, especially littoral forest, is threatened by speculative investment in residential and ecotourism development. Fragmented decision-making within and among government agencies results in a lack of enforcement, regulation and oversight, as well as substandard environmental assessments and review prior to issuing permits.
If we are unable to purchase this land, illegal and improper development, clearing of mangroves and dredging may occur. These activities decrease water quality, increase erosion causing sedimentation and release carbon dioxide and pollutants thus threatening seagrass and coral viability as well as the habitat supporting many aquatic and terrestrial species.
Estimated value ($) of a single hectare (average)