Rio Bravo’s north-western location on the Guatemalan border makes it an important player in bi-national conservation efforts. The site forms part of the Northern Belize Biological Corridors which links six protected areas in northern Belize and is integrated into the larger Mesoamerican Biological Corridors initiative. The connection between the Rio Bravo Conservation and Management Area and the Maya Biosphere Reserve in Guatemala represents Belize’s critical link into the main Mesoamerican Biological Corridors system, ensuring connections in the ecosystems between Belize and the rest of Central America.
Understanding that the long-term sustainability of the proposed network of biological corridors for Northern Belize is dependent on community-based commitment to conservation and sustainable use of land as well as participation in the monitoring of the network of corridors, a central element of the NBBCP was investment in community level projects focused on the establishment and future management of the biological corridors. In the first year of implementation, the NBBCP launched 11 community projects in the Belize, Orange Walk and Corozal Districts.
These community based projects were designed by the community members, themselves, to serve local interests and improve environmental management and conservation. In most cases, these community projects were focused on either development of economic opportunities or maintenance of the supply of local resources by creating and/or managing local nature reserves. Sustainable development activities being pursued by community groups included: agro-forestry, ecotourism, bee-keeping, reforestation, protected areas management and eco-cultural development.
To support the extensive investment in community-based initiatives, a parallel investment was made in capacity building. The NBBCP organized and implemented six workshops to strengthen the community groups’ capacities to effectively participate in the NBBCP and to ensure successful implementation of the community-based initiatives. Workshops were conducted in project management, bee-keeping techniques, catering and hospitality management, agro-forestry and ecotourism. Over 100 community members from communities in the Belize, Orange Walk and Corozal Districts were trained.