Using Belize’s robust protected areas system

Regional officers of various Caribbean protected areas were in Belize for a six-day work exchange visit. Their stay in Belize from 3rd to the 8th of February was part of a project being implemented in the African, Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) group of countries through the Biodiversity and Protected Areas Management Programme (BIOPAMA). The group visited three protected areas, including Hol Chan Marine Reserve and the Bacalar Chico Marine Reserve on Ambergris Caye during their visit to the only Caribbean country in Central America.

BIOPAMA is a four-year project that is being executed by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) and the European Commission (EC) Joint Resource Center. For the execution of the project, the ACP countries have been broken down into four smaller BIOPAMA regions; Western and Central Africa, Eastern and Southern Africa, the Caribbean and the Pacific. The scope of the project is broken down into two components; capacity building in protected area management done by the IUCN, and an Access and Benefit Sharing component executed by a European based organization. “We are supporting the development and enhancement of protected area management throughout the region. The manner in which capacity building will be rolled out is twofold. We are looking at specific initiatives geared directly at capacity building, whether it is in training of protected areas managers or developing materials that will support their protected areas management tools to do their work. On the other side we are looking to set up, in each of the regions, something we call an observatory. It’s basically a center for data and information that will support protected areas management decision making,” said Hyacinth Armstrong-Vaughn, BIOPAMA’s Protected Areas Officer.

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