Seascape Collaboration in the Northern Belize Coastal Complex
Seascape Collaboration in the Northern Belize Coastal Complex
The Northern Belize Coastal Complex (NBCC) is a river-to-reef seascape of connected protected areas in northern Belize that stretches from the Rio Hondo, New River and the coastal lagoons that flow into the Corozal Bay Wildlife Sanctuary, to the reefs of Bacalar Chico (part of Belize’s World Heritage Site – the BBRRS-WHS), Hol Chan and Caye Caulker Marine Reserves. The area, 397,691 acres of estuarine and reef ecosystems, is important for its reef formations, shallow coastal seagrass beds, extensive inundated mangroves, its importance in maintaining a healthy, viable population of threatened species, and for supporting stakeholder livelihoods – those of local fishermen, tour guides, sport fishing guides and the tourism support industry (hotels, restaurants etc.) from small fishing communities of Sarteneja, Chunox and Copper Bank to the larger tourism destinations of San Pedro and Caye Caulker - the backbone of Belize’s tourism industry. To the north, the protected areas are contiguous with the Sanctuario del Manati and Parque Nacional Arrecifes de Xcalak, in Mexico.
The NBCC Plan was finalized in 2015, achieved with the participation of a wide range of cross sectoral Government and non-Government stakeholders, and resulted in a series of twelve, well defined strategies for improving river to reef, system level management, as well as providing a platform for increased communication and collaboration between the key protected area management bodies SACD/Forest Department and Fisheries Department. It also provided an opportunity for transboundary input from Mexican partners, in recognition that the estuarine system does not stop at the international border.
Over the last five years, the environment has been steadily improving for system-level collaboration, with implementation of parts of the NBCC plan, building communication and trust. All partners agree that it is now time to move from coordination to full collaboration in the seascape. This project seeks to build on the strengthened communication and cooperation between the four site-level protected area management units (Corozal Bay WS, Bacalar Chico NP and MR, Hol Chan and Caye Caulker MR / FR), and move further towards collaboration in four areas: surveillance and enforcement, research and monitoring, financial sustainability, and governance, to provide an innovative working model of costeffective collaborative management at seascape level. It will also build on the shared experiences of individual protected areas and contribute to biodiversity conservation, improved climate change resilience and natural resource user benefit. It also seeks to strengthen resilience of protected area management to impacts such as Covid-19, through diversification of financial sustainability mechanisms, as part of protected area recovery strategies. This project will support the GEF SGP Op7 Landscape/Seascape strategy “improving conservation and sustainable use, and management of important terrestrial and coastal/marine ecosystems through implementation of community based landscape/seascape approaches”. The project falls within SGP Priority Area 1 and contributes towards the SGP OP7 project objective of Community-based conservation of threatened ecosystems and species through supporting the development of strategic interventions in the seascape towards achieving sustainable use and management of marine and terrestrial resources, with scaling down of the National Protected Areas System Rationalization Exercise recommendations for system level management to the NBCC. More specifically, it contributes to seascape conservation efforts in Belize through improved management effectiveness of the Northern Belize Coastal Complex, mitigating threats, improving conservation outcomes and socioeconomic benefits, towards the national Goal of ‘Functional ecosystems and viable populations of Belize’s biodiversity are maintained and strengthened’, and the priority target under that goal, Target

1: By 2030, Belize’s natural landscapes and seascapes are all functional and build biodiversity resilience to climate change (NBSAP, 2016)
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Project Snapshot

Sarteneja Alliance for Conservation and Development
Area Of Work:
Grant Amount:
US$ 25,000.00
Co-Financing Cash:
Co-Financing in-Kind:
Project Number:
Currently under execution
Project Characteristics and Results
Gender Focus
SACD (as the implementing organization) has, at its core, its guiding principles, including that all activities be community driven, and that there be equality in all actions, regardless of gender, age, and culture. The organization is, itself, led by a woman – the President of the Executive Board, with women holding two of the three seats on the Executive Board. As such it can clearly demonstrate that it does not discriminate between gender in terms of project participation, but ensures that all sectors and genders are represented equally. SACD also focuses on engaging youths in project implementation through its Community Researcher program, targeting young people between the ages of 18 and 30, and training them in biodiversity and water quality monitoring protocols. As with all SACD recruitment, the Community Researchers are selected through a non-biased application process. The project strengthens the engagement of beach trap fisher and sport fish tourism stakeholders through inclusion in project activities focused at strengthening both these sectors. It also establishes mechanisms for stakeholder inclusion (both men and women) in management decisions through support of the Corozal Bay Advisory Community and the establishment of the Hol Chan Advisory Committee.
Inovative Financial Mechanisms
Several deliverables under the project are focused on knowledge sharing for improved system level management, including the report on the pilot system-level management effectiveness assessment, sharing lessons learnt and recommendations for implementing management effectiveness at system level for other protected landscapes in Belize. The project also trials reporting at the system level, with the annual report on surveillance and enforcement activities in the NBCC, and the first system level report on the status of biodiversity in the seascape, providing a model for similar reporting over other landscape and seascapes
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SGP Country office contact

Mr. Leonel Requena
(501) 822-2462


UNDP Belize,3rd Floor, Lawrence Nicholas Building Complex ,P.O. Box 53,South Ring Road,
Belmopan, Central America