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Caribbean Small Technical Grant

Boosting EcoTourism Belize to support sustainable conservation in the Maya Golden Landscape of southern Belize

Terrestrial protected area Privately protected area Key landscape for conservation
Governance Management effectiveness Livelihoods
Local communities Indigenous people Women
Livelihoods/ Alternative economic activities Eco-tourism Capacity building
70,779.08 EUR Belize, Caribbean October 01, 2020 - July 31, 2021

Protected and conserved area(s) concerned

Golden Stream Corridor Preserve, 301941.

Diagnostic tools used

Golden Stream Corridor Preserve Management Plan 2020-2025, Golden Stream Corridor Preserve Management Plan Annexes 202-2025, Golden Stream Corridor Preserve Evaluation Workbook and Ya’axché Land Title for Golden Stream Corridor Preserve.

The BIOPAMA AC Objectives addressed

  • Enhance the management of governance of priority protected areas by addressing existing limitations (strengthening on-site infrastructure/equipment for patrol, poaching control, developing capacity of staff;
  • Support local communities’ initiatives aiming to enhance the livelihoods of local people whilst effectively contributing to protected areas management.

Priority need addressed

  • Improved protected area management through the bolstering of EcoTourism Belize’s (ETB) sustainability and impact through investment in equipment and infrastructure.
  • Shared local indigenous culture and supported Golden Stream Corridor Preserve (GSCP) buffer communities through innovative ecotourism initiatives.

Project activities

Ya’axché Conservation Trust’s social business initiative, EcoTourism Belize (ETB) facilitates sustainable ecotourism to local and international audiences, of which the proceeds are directly reinvested into conservation and community development across southern Belize. This project focuses primarily on boosting natural and cultural ecotourism offerings within Golden Stream Corridor Preserve (GSCP), Ya’axché’s private protected area, and the surrounding buffer communities.

Through this project, a new restroom facility will be constructed and the current bunkhouse providing visitor accommodations on the grounds of GSCP’s ranger station will be updated and improved through new paint, ceiling fans, bed linens and furnishings, as well as through the addition of a screened veranda. To increase the diversity of available lodging and appeal to a wider audience, two tents will be purchased to provide camping opportunities within GSCP. The visitor grounds will be further improved through the installation of directional signs indicating visitor facilities.

Ecotourism offerings which allow visitors to experience GSCP and the intact ecosystems protected by the Preserve will be enhanced through the purchase of kayaks, canoe paddles and binoculars, and GSCP’s self-guided nature trails will be demarcated with new signs for ease of visitor use. To provide convenient transportation from guest accommodations to tour sites, a tour van will be purchased.

In addition to the GSCP-based ecotourism activities offered, ETB partners with local indigenous women’s groups so that they can share their cuisine, crafts, music and Maya culture with interested visitors. Therefore, this project provides capacity building for these women through workshops focused on hospitality and customer service.

The change the project implementation will bring for the protected area(s)

The livelihoods of many buffer communities are highly dependent and rely on the land, water and biological diversity found locally. Ecosystem services provided through Ya’axché’s ability to safeguard Golden Stream Corridor Preserve (GSCP) include clean water and air, game species, flood control, pollination and non-timber forest products. Through investment in capacity building, infrastructure and equipment, EcoTourism Belize (ETB) will develop consistent and environmentally responsible tourism programs, empowering local indigenous women and communities and leading effective biodiversity conservation of Golden Stream Corridor Preserve (GSCP) and the larger Maya Golden Landscape (MGL).

This will allow ETB to emerge post-Covid-19 in a strong position, for the first time, to generate consistent income for Ya’axché’s conservation and development initiatives across southern Belize’s protected areas. Through infrastructure investment within GSCP, two zones (Zone 1 for General Use; Zone 2 for Education and Recreation) demarcated in the PCA’s management plan will have improved infrastructure and sustainable access for visitors, allowing ETB to reach a larger population of visitors and elevating the visitor experience. Furthermore, through ownership of equipment, ETB’s ecotours within GSCP will no longer hinder patrolling or field research, allowing for more effective protected area management.

Download the project infofiche.

Implementing organisations

Ya’axché Conservation Trust

Photo credits: Sayuri Tzul, Ya’axché Conservation Trust

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