Ya’axche Conservation Trust is a Belizean conservation organization that focuses on protecting biodiversity and human development for the benefit of both. The organization works primarily in southern Belize in an area termed the Maya Golden Landscape (MGL). The MGL is 770,000 acre mosaic landscape of globally important protected areas, community, private and state lands covering a diverse range of ecosystems and supports over 3,000 plant species, 110 mammals, 400 birds, 92 reptiles and amphibians and includes 18 endemic and 37 globally threatened species (IUCN Red list). The MGL is also home to a majority of the nation’s indigenous Maya population and supports a wide range of land uses. The landscape provides environmental goods and services in an area characterized by rapid population growth and where 46% of the population is living below the poverty line. Agriculture provides 46% of the population with employment, remaining the predominant economic driver of the Toledo District.
Due to the interconnections between conservation work and land use by the Maya groups in southern Belize, Ya’axché has developed two different programmatic areas: The Protected Areas Management program and the Community Outreach and Livelihoods program. The Protected Areas Management (PAM) program focuses on the conservation efforts of the organization. Currently Ya’axché manages the Golden Stream Corridor Preserve and co-manages Bladen Nature Reserve and Maya Mountain North Forest Reserve with the Forest Department. The PAM program consists of 13 rangers who do patrols that monitor illegal activities within these protected areas and ensure local buffering communities are complying with the rules and regulations of the protected areas. These rangers, under the supervision of Ya’axché’s Science Director, also collect data on biodiversity presence within these areas. The joint efforts of enforcement and compliance patrols and biodiversity monitoring can methodologically track how illegal activities present within protected areas are impacting biodiversity levels, and future management decisions can be made to address these issues.
The other programmatic area of Ya’axché is the Community Outreach and Livelihoods (COL) program. The COL program aims to assist the local communities in the MGL to improve their livelihoods while maintaining ecosystem services in the area. Some activities to achieve this include the promotion of sustainable agriculture and micro-enterprise initiatives, environmental education and outreach, and fostering strong governance throughout these communities. Ya’axché hosts a few annual events to teach community members on some of the work that we do. One of these is Ya’axché’s Farmers’ Expo. This event recognizes three outstanding farmers that have successfully adopted the sustainable and climate resilient agriculture techniques that Ya’axche is promoting and also increases awareness on proper fire management to decrease the risk of escaped fires. In 2015, Ya’axche also hosted its first annual Bio blitz event, which teaches local primary school students the biodiversity techniques used by our rangers. This is a fun event that increases interest of students in the biodiversity found throughout this rich landscape.
Through these two programs, Ya’axché continues to work with the local communities in promoting sustainable use of the land and natural resources, and promoting community participation in conservation efforts in southern Belize.
To learn more about us visit our Facebook page on the link below
or visit our Website on the link below.