Washington, September 30, 2014 – Belizeans will manage natural resources more sustainably in Key Biodiversity Areas, and alternative livelihoods opportunities will be provided to local communities as a result of a US$6 million Global Environment Facility (GEF) project approved by the Board of Directors.
“Like the rest of the Caribbean, Belize is most vulnerable to hurricanes. It is only by protecting its forest and rich environmental resources, as well as supporting reforestation that it can mitigate the effects of climate change,” said Sophie Sirtaine, World Bank Country Director for the Caribbean.
Belize has the largest barrier reef in the Americas and the highest forest cover in both Central America and the Caribbean, including intact virgin forest. The country is a signatory to the Convention on Biological Diversity. Despite having succeeded in preserving its forest and outstanding biodiversity to a greater extent than its neighbors, forest cover has decreased over the last decade. Belize’s rich biodiversity remains under threat by deforestation as a result of the expansion of agriculture, housing, tourism, and forest fires.
The Management and Protection of Key Biodiversity Areas project will:
- Increase the number of hectares under sustainable forest management by more than two folds in targeted areas
- Enhance biodiversity protection in six targeted protected areas
- Provide alternative livelihoods options and training to local forest communities on sustainable harvesting and marketing of non-timber forest products
- Strengthen capacity of the Ministry of Forestry, Fisheries and Sustainable Development, and other institutions to improve management and compliance monitoring of forest resources and environment
This five year project is financed by a US$6 million grant from the Global Environment Facility (GEF) and US$3 million in kind counterpart financing from the Government of Belize.