maya forest

Protecting the Maya Forest corridor

The Maya Mountains of Southern Belize and the Selva Maya of Guatemala, Mexico and Belize make up the Maya Forest, the largest remaining forest in the Mesoamerica Biodiversity Hotspot. They are connected by a single thread of forest known as the Maya Forest Corridor. This tiny tract of forest is essential to keeping the majestic Maya Forest from being split into two smaller forests and guaranteeing the survival of the species that live there.

The Maya Forest Corridor is particularly important for Jaguars. It’s the only area connecting Belize’s two Jaguar Conservation Units: the Maya Mountain Massif in Southwest Belize and the rest of the Selva Maya to the north, which extends into Mexico and Guatemala. If the genetic connectivity of the Maya Forest Corridor is lost, it would be one step closer to extinction for the Jaguar and many other wildlife species in Belize.

The Maya Forest Corridor provides important habitat for species such as the Endangered Baird’s Tapir— the national animal of Belize— the Central American Spider Monkey and the Critically Endangered Central American River Turtle. 

Jaguar photo by Jamen Percy

Yet we are perilously close to losing the Maya Forest Corridor.

Over the course of the past decade, the size of this strip of forest has been reduced  by more than 65%— at a rate of deforestation that is four times Belize’s national average. The forest has largely been destroyed for sugarcane and large-scale farming.

Through more than a decade of research, Re:wild and our partners have identified at least 50,000 acres of forest that need to be protected to keep the corridor alive. Of that total, 10,000 acres are protected by private landowners, non-governmental organizations and governments.

The other 40,000 acres are privately owned. Re:wild and our partners are working to acquire and permanently protect these wild places. 

The wetlands of the Maya Forest Corridor also have an important role to play to address human-caused climate change and provide protection from flooding caused by severe weather as a result. The corridor helps make Belize more resilient to climate change.

Sugar Cane along the corridor (Photo by Tony Rath)

Re:wild and its partners work with communities and local partners to acquire the land needed to safeguard the Maya Forest Corridor. It will be placed into trust and protected in perpetuity for the people of Belize. 

There has never been a more critical moment than now to secure this corridor. If we don’t succeed, we will suffer a permanent loss of biodiversity.

Re:wild and its partners work with communities and local partners to acquire the land needed to safeguard the Maya Forest Corridor. It will be placed into trust and protected in perpetuity for the people of Belize. 

There has never been a more critical moment than now to secure this corridor. If we don’t succeed, we will suffer a permanent loss of biodiversity.

Wild Facts

  • The Maya Forest Corridor is only a 5-to-6 mile stretch.

  • The corridor is a critical pathway for Jaguars as they move between forests to hunt and breed.

  • The wetlands of the corridor help protect Belize from flooding caused by severe storms.

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Solutions

There is no one-size-fits-all solution to the interrelated crises of wildlife extinctions, climate change and pandemics. Re:wild works with local and Indigenous communities, conservation partners, governments and others to solve some of the world’s most pressing environmental challenges. Our Maya Forest conservation approaches include any combination of the following solutions:

protected area management

Improving the way protected and conserved areas are managed—involving communities, Indigenous peoples, sociology, economics, business management, and wildlife crime prevention—to ensure a safer future for biodiversity and local communities.

wildlife crime prevention

Developing community-led and owned prevention strategies that take into account the societal and cultural drivers of wildlife crime, and implementing systems and technology to stop poachers before a crime is even committed.

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Partnering with Indigenous Peoples

Incorporating Indigenous knowledge, practices and values to support Indigenous peoples in protecting and managing their lands and natural resources.

Number of acres

290,000+ acres

Size of

Los Angeles

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