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The Rio Bravo Forest
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One area where people are attempting to show how the forest can ‘pay for itself’ in a number of different ways is the Rio Bravo Conservation and Management Area (RBCMA). This area of forest is particularly important, both to Belize and to the world as a whole. It is supported by the Belize government and local authorities, by international Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs) and by the European Union.

So, what is Programme for Belize doing in this special forest to earn money from it?

Right : the Programme for Belize logo. The World Land Trust still supports this project through "Friends of Belize".

The Rio Bravo forest is special because it:

  • is in an area where other local forests are fast disappearing to large-scale farming
  • has the most diverse array of vegetation types of any protected area of Belize
  • supports 12 animal species which are endangered elsewhere, including the Morelets crocodile, jaguar, ocelot and marguay
  • is linked to adjacent reserves, which together form the largest forest block in central America
  • is one of most important conservation areas of the tropical zone of the Americas.
map showing the RBCMA

The RBCMA is owned and managed by Programme for Belize, a local NGO. It covers about 100,000 ha (hectares), which is about 4% of the whole country. Some of the land, about 37,000 ha, had previously belonged to a private logging company and was bought by the Coca Cola company to be turned into an orange tree plantation. Following local and international pressure by those who wanted the forest to remain, Coca Cola instead donated the land to the project. Another part of the forest was bought and donated by an NGO called World Land Trust (WLT) based in Britain. The money was raised from individuals, from companies such as Tate and Lyle and the Today newspaper and from schoolchildren. It is still supported by WLT.