Archive for July 3, 2009

Funding for Freshwater Research and Monitoring

Some good news for Ya’axche’s research and monitoring efforts and Belize’s freshwater systems this week…

Ms. Rachael Carrie, Ya’axche’s Freshwater Ecologist has secured funding from the Natural Environment (NERC) and Economic and Social Research Councils (ESRC) of the United Kingdom to develop biological assessment tools to assess human impact on the threatened rivers of Belize.

Whilst earning a Doctorate degree through Lancaster University, Ms. Carrie,  with the support of the Freshwater Biological Association of the UK and Ya’axche’, will seek to 1) develop ways in which communities and NGOs can monitor  human impacts on riverine health, and 2) measure the effectiveness of conservation efforts taken to maintain, restore and enhance ecosystem function.

Beautiful Rio Grande in Southern Belize (photo from Ya'axche)

Beautiful Rio Grande in Southern Belize (photo from Ya'axche)

Growing awareness that our planet’s freshwater ecosystems are in crisis as a result of human activities has led to the corresponding global need to design and test new, scientifically and socially robust methods for sustainable ecosystem management. This need calls for the development of economical, yet rigorous aquatic monitoring and assessment techniques which measure the effects of complex and cumulative human impacts and enable their effective management. Nowhere is the need more acute than in the culturally and biologically diverse tropics, where the impacts of poorly planned urbanization, agricultural expansion and intensification are exacerbated by inadequate infrastructure, resources and technical expertise.

The freshwater biodiversity of Latin American and the Caribbean is one of the most diverse on earth.  However, in many countries, such as Belize, there exists a scarcity of baseline information pertaining to almost every aspect of freshwater biodiversity. This research will use Belize as a case study to develop an interdisciplinary approach for the sustainable biological monitoring of tropical rivers.

Ya'axche's Freshwater Monitoring Team Hard at Work

Ya'axche's Freshwater Monitoring Team Hard at Work

The need for this research was identified by Ya’axche, TIDE, the Forest and Fisheries Department’s of the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment, The Nature Conservancy and Fauna and Flora International during a structured Conservation Action Planning process for the Maya Mountain Marine Corridor.  Ya’axche’ is thrilled to partner with Ms. Carrie, Lancaster University and the NERC and ESRC to work towards achieveing the objectives of this important regional Strategy and to build on and enhance their existing research and monitoring programme in the Maya Golden Landscape.

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