belize national protected areas policy and system plan

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  • Belize National Protected Areas Policy and System Plan

  • Background

    A previous assessment project (National Protected Areas System Plan, funded by USAID) was conducted in 1994, but was focused solely on biodiversity conservation and was never fully incorporated into the national agenda. It set the stage for system-wide thinking and planning.The project was developed in 2004 through the Ministry of Natural Resources with the guiding principle that the Protected Areas System should be a major contributor to national development and poverty alleviation, while maximizing its biodiversity value and ecological functionality.

  • The National Protected Areas Policy and System Plan InitiativeMinistry of Natural Resources Launched in 2004 Strengthening Management & MonitoringIdentification and Delivery of Economic BenefitsManagement Procedures and Sustainable UseProtected Area System Assessment & AnalysisPolicy Formulationprovided official platform for NGO assistance

    Five Themes

  • NPAPSP Protected Area Analysis18.5 %. national territory under some form of conservation management

  • Terrestrial vs Marine Protected Areas.94 Protected areas, witharcheology & private PAs

    42% land in PAs17% is in conservation 25% extractive uses (e.g. forestry reserves)

    7% marine territory in MPA(includes EEZ or ~20% for shelf)3% in conservation4% extractive uses

  • Analysis MethodMARXAN is software that delivers decision support for reserve system design. MARXAN finds reasonably efficient solutions to the problem of selecting a system of spatially cohesive sites that meet a suite of biodiversity targets. Given reasonably uniform data on species, habitats and/or other relevant biodiversity features and surrogates for a number of planning units MARXAN minimizes the cost while meeting user-defined targets.

    Steps:Defined Conservation TargetsSet specific goals for each target (based largely on their environmental services or perceived need/threat and on comparison with widely used values)Few experts or accepted criteria did the best we could

  • PDF file 5,580 kbOriginal Marine Habitats> 30 classes x 6 zonessimplified into19 Marine Bioregions

    Based on habitats, sediments, bathymetry and geography

    Based on Australian model

  • Marine Conservation Target Proportions (minimum value for each)Each marine bioregion: 20%Coral reefs: 30%Mangroves*: 40% High Interconnectivity**: 50%Manatee distribution: 30%Turtle nesting sites: 60%Saltwater crocodiles nesting: 60%Spawning Aggregation sites: 80% (Birds treated under terrestrial)Used only national scale data

  • Clean slate approach - does not consider existing MPAsLocked in approachIncludes all MPAs & adds in needed gapsMarine Variations(Important MARXAN choices)

  • Variation Useda compromiseWe chose to use a compromise approach by seeding the selection with existing MPAs

  • Human Needs

    A cost layer in MARXAN

    Identify the areas where human needs come first

    Or footprint / threat is highest

    Make these areas more expensive to select

  • Combined Results Minimize conflicts betweenConservation targets & human needs layers

    Encourages ridge to reef conservation connectivity

  • Combined Results:Marine results are more flexible than terrestrial results.

    Although some coastal/marine areas are always selected

    Some of these are outside existing network

  • ConclusionsIn general there is still a lack of data that would help conservation planning and management. There is a need for a spatially enabled species database, standardized monitoring schemes.

    No data was available for the deep water ecosystems of Belize and such data is clearly needed for conservation planning

    Monitoring of biodiversity is still in its infancy, yet it will be important for the future management of conservation management areas.

  • ConclusionsThere is no single correct way of designing a protected areas system and a variety of options can achieve similar results

    Multiple considerations, shifting priorities and changing conditions need to be considered, with humans (not MARXAN) making final decisions

    Despite a fairly high percent area in protection, the analysis shows many gaps outside the existing network. MARXAN can help us be more efficient getting maximum conservation results with less area under conservation

    Need the right mix of science, politics and practicality to turn design options into an achievable reality-based Network

  • Next Steps

    Production of final report including multimedia data CD Public Dissemination Use as a planning tool for implementation of a more rationalized and functional Protected Areas Network

    WWF now begins a ecoregional MCPA network assessment

    Belize has a high proportion of its naturalsdxz resources protected under a variety of management structures. This system of Protected Areas has evolved over several decades, reflecting changing conservation attitudes, as has the scope and direction of the various agencies responsible for its administration. However, Belize now finds itself at a crossroads: the system represents a wealth of valuable resources, yet, in the face of calls for additional reserves, how should it be developed, and how should it be integrated more effectively with the national economy?

    The previous 1994 assessment was extremely weak within the marine realm due to an almost complete lack of data at a national scale. Various types of data existed only at a few select sites, and there was no marine habitat map of any type.

    However, this 1994 assessment was extermely valuable in providing a sea-change in our thinking scaling up to the system or network scale and realining that we need comparable data on the national scale. Such national scale data was later collected within the GEF ICZM Project.

    The Assessment & Analysis theme provided a mandate to NGOs to assist with this work We formed a Consortium, signed a MOU and developed a workplan with different groups committing to help with different aspects: One hired consultant pulled it together and ran the final combined marine and terrestrial analysis. THE assessment included all ecotypes, cultural monuments, critical habitats, watersheds, land suitability, use and ownership, and areas vulnerable to natural or climate-related change. This is assessed in the light of proposals for new and/or consolidated protected areas, and for biological corridors, with regard to identified threats to the system. Through this process, gaps in the system are identified.

    Belize is relatively small 2,2 million ha of land 5.6 million ha total territory. Much confusion exists about the true amount of protected areas in Belize and the total coverage of these protected areas in comparison with the total territory of Belize.

    There are 94 protected areas in Belize (including archaeological reserves and accepted private reserves). Most allow extractionRice and Beans Science Our marine habitat map, based on claASSIFIED LANDSAT images was too complex with very small areas less than the 10km2 planning units our most important habitat components (coral reefs and mangroves) are included as separate targets

    We ended up with 19 Bioregionsthis map shows the bioregions without the further separation into Northern, Central and Southern shelf and windward and leeward atollsThese targets were established by the Marine Working Group (NGOs and govt local university)It considers the commonly used target MPA values and also considers that the cumulative % area under protection should not be inadvertantly high to loose stakeholder supportMangroves are also protected by the Mangrove Protection Act but are threatened with destruction in areas not protected (most are now withing private lands)

    High Interconnectivity sites were those mangroves located within 2.5km of coral reefs (added fisheries values, etc)

    In general, reproductive site targets are higher, given the sensitivity and high threat of this processGiven the already over-exploited nature of the primary spawning species (groupers and large snappers) this target was higherWe decided a separate target for seagrass was unnecessary since it covers approximatley half our marine shelf post hoc testing will test that it also meets the 20% minimun target of each bioregion

    MARXAN allows the user to set a number of parameters which affect the results. One of the most important is whether or not you want to design from a clean slate or just build on existing MPAs (with defined / unchanging boundaries)Note in the clean slate a few of our MPAs (in green) are not selected and two areas with little/no protection (Turneffe and around Belize City) are highly selectedThis approach begins each of the four hundred iterations within the existing Pas (increasing the probability they will be selected). But they are not forced to be selectedBefore continuing with the gap analysis itself, an analysis needed to be made of a human needs or human footprint.Conservation planning needs to look at the human footprint on the landscapeIn the marine realm there were no hard data (roads, subdivisions, spatial info on fishing etc) so itwas completed by convening 4 geographicly based threats assessments by stakeholders *WCS methodology) potentially different resultsFishermens input was limited they are being consulted again now they dont like to attend meetings!The analysis identifies areas where conservation targets can be met with the least interference from the human needs.The result of the Marxan analysis do not provide the final answer!These results are a t


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