Belize: A Success Story
For seven years, CORAL worked alongside key community partners to catalyze coral reef conservation in Belize. Our expert team—led by Val Rosado—provided local communities with the knowledge, skills, and resources to protect their remarkable marine resources, and to leverage tourism as a tool for sustaining critical conservation and education efforts. While we have since elected to suspend our field operations in Belize, our efforts have empowered and equipped Belize’s coastal communities to keep our momentum going until we identify opportunities to re-engage.
Situated between southeast Mexico, Guatemala, and the Caribbean Sea, Belize is well known as one of the best diving destinations in the world. With approximately 60 miles of coral reefs stretching along its coasts, Belize’s diverse dive sites boast stunning atolls, coral canyons, sheer cliffs, and caves. But like so many coral reefs around the world, Belize’s reefs are threatened by the effects of climate change, overfishing, pollution, coastal development, and other human-induced stresses. This is why Belize became a priority destination for CORAL’s work.
Reef Threats & Progress
The coral reefs of Belize provide many benefits to the local community; however, factors such as intensive coastal development, agricultural runoff, uncontrolled sewage and sedimentation issues, increases in cruise ship tourism, and irresponsible marine recreation activities are threatening the health of the reefs. CORAL worked with community leaders, local government, and marine recreation providers to build effective management of marine protected areas and support new conservation projects and alliances.
Our Partners in Belize
CORAL partnered with a variety of stakeholders in Belize, including local community groups and non-governmental organizations, marine park managers and marine recreation operators, and the government institutions focused on tourism development and natural resource conservation. In partnership with Conservation International, CORAL developed the Sustainable Marine Recreation Environmental Walk-Through Program, and continues to seek opportunities with other international NGOs working on similar issues in the region.
Valentine Rosado, CORAL’s former field representative in Belize, brought together stakeholder groups from across the country to collaborate on local conservation initiatives that support standards implementation, reduce reef threats, and create meaningful opportunities for local communities to save their coral reefs by supporting marine protected areas.