Ya’axche Earns Co-Management of Bladen Nature Reserve

Last December Ya’axche received a massive, multi-colored feather for its hat:  The Bladen Nature Reserve.

Keel-billed Toucan

Keel-billed Toucan

Considered the crown jewel of Belizean protected areas, Bladen Nature Reserve (BNR) is a 100,000 acre, pristine natural forest in southern Belize.  It is considered to be one of the most biodiversity-rich, and topographically unique areas within the Mesoamerican biodiversity “hotspot.”

BNR is the center piece of the Maya Mountain Corridor, creating a crucial link in the last remaining large, intact block of forest in the region.  Additional parts of this corridor are protected by the Cockscomb Basin Wildlife Sanctuary, the Columbia River Forest Reserve, and the Chiquibul National Park and Forest Reserve – all bordering BNR. The large number of ecosystems and species encompassed by the nature reserve add significantly to its value as a conservation area. Harpy Eagles, Scarlet Macaws and five cat species – including the jaguar – all thrive in this large territory of old growth forest. Few other areas of Mesoamerica provide enough forest to support this wide array of species.

BNR’s role in watershed protection within the area is also important as it protects the upper waters of the Monkey River watershed, preserving the quality of the water draining onto the Belize Barrier Reef 26 km to the east.  This water system additionally provides water for local communities and large agricultural areas on the coastal plain.

As a vibrant and productive old growth jungle, BNR provides many other environmental benefits to humans on a global level. By cleaning air it protects global life support systems, and it serves as a carbon sink and a diverse genetic bank of a range of species. Additionally, the Mayan ruins and vast cave system within the reserve provide tremendous heritage and scenic value.

Bladen has been identified as one of the three core natural areas demanding the highest level of protection in the Belize National Protected Area System Plan (NPASP) [View the Synthesis Report], and as one of eleven priority areas highlighted under the Central American System of Protected Areas.  Furthermore, the NPASP has recommended a landscape approach to conservation.  This is what Ya’axche does best!

Ya’axche is charged with a two-pronged mission:  To protect and preserve the biodiversity, cultural resources and watershed features found with Bladen as an integral part of the Maya Mountain region, and to develop Bladen as a nationally and internationally renowned research and educational site.

Ranger Station at Bladen, Sponsored by a Grant from PACT

Ranger station at Bladen, sponsored by a grant from PACT

None of this could have been possible without the support of the Protected Areas Conservation Trust (PACT) and their sponsorship of Ya’axche’s project:  Strengthening the Southern Maya Mountains’ Core Protected Areas.

The Belize Forest Department awarded Ya’axche “co-management” status after a lengthy review process of the various members of the previous management group, the Bladen Management Consortium.  Co-management means that Ya’axche will conduct ranger operations and oversee the site, on behalf of the Forest Department.

In May 2006, Ya’axche’s Bartolo Teul was awarded the “Protected Area Manager of the Year,” for his service as the Chairman of Bladen Management Consortium and the coordinator of Ya’axche programs. This was the first time such an award was ever offered in Belize. We are truly proud of Mr. Teul as we are all members of the Ya’axche team who worked tirelessly to earn this honor!



  1. Pedro said

    Thanks for the great post Peder! Can’t wait to come see you and your project in action. Missing MN? You don’t have to answer that.

    Can’t wait to hear more updates from the project area and surrounding hotspots. I’d really love to spend a couple of days in Livingston so keep us posted on your neighbor to the South.

  2. Peder said

    Thanks Pedro, it’s good to hear from you again. I really enjoyed your blog posts on Central America, sustainable tourism and the Belize Zoo. It’ll be good to catch up next time you’re in the area. (I’m probably due for another trip to Tahoe sometime soon too!) Guatemala is looking good, on clear nights I can see the lights of Livingston and Puerto Barrios across the bay!

  3. […] in honor of our new status as co-manager of Bladen Nature Reserve where, in the words of our Protected Areas Manager, “if you spent a week out there you would […]

  4. […] though I cannot find a linkable source for that at this time.  Bordering Cockscomb is our very own Bladen Nature Reserve, whose jaguar population is as yet unknown.  We’re currently seeking funding to research […]

  5. […] very interesting findings about the amphibian species (particularly frog) of Belize’s “crown jewel” of protected […]

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