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Rapid Ecological Assessment

Aguas Turbias National Park, Orange Walk District, Belize

Aguas Turbias National Park Within the National Protected Areas System of Belize, only a few have management plans; Aguas Turbias National Park (ATNP) is one of those parks without a management plan. Declared in 1994 through SI #44/94 with an area of approximately 8800 acres, the ATNP has an important role to play in the trans-boundary connectivity between Belize, Guatemala and Mexico in the Selva Maya Priority Area of the Mesoamerican Biological Corridor. Most recently, the ATNP has been selected under the CCAD/AOPN regional initiative to receive grant funding for the preparation of its management plan and on-the-ground management activities.

The ATNP is situated in the extreme north-eastern corner of Belize where Belize, Mexico and Guatemala meet. The area was traditionally covered in broadleaf forest but the last decade has seen increased development of the area, both from the Mexican and from the Belizean side.

Satellite image showing Aguas Turbias National Park and surrounding Belize, Mexico and Guatemala.

In Belize the development consists primarily of large scale cattle ranching and rice cultivation. From the Mexican side, the pressure is mostly from small scale subsistence farming.

The Forest Department (FD), under its Protected Areas Program, has seen it timely and necessary for a Rapid Ecological Assessment (REA) to be made in preparation for the Management Plan that is scheduled for completion in 2004. This partnership between the MBC and CCAD/OAPN initiative is considered as a strategic approach to park management. The REA will provide biodata to be used in the management plan and also make recommendations for management alternatives between the FD, NGO's and neighboring communities.

The general objective of this RAE is to develop biological, geological and climate data characterization of the Aguas Turbias National Park and other relevant information that will feed into the site’s Management Plan that will be developed during 2004 with funds from Spain known as the CCAD/AOPN initiative. The specific objectives of this consultancy are the following:

review all existing literature on the ATNP; carry out a baseline survey to provide information on the various flora and fauna (including geology, vegetation, ecosystems, invertebrates, fish, amphibians, reptiles, birds, mammals, etc) in the ATNP;
carry out consultations with NGO's and CBO's to get their inputs or feedback on the characteristics of the ATNP and management options.

Some map information already exists but the information in this study will be used to verify (ground-truth) that information and update these maps for use both in the final report as well as for the national database. For example: the ecosystems map for Belize (Meerman & Sabido: Central American Ecosystems map: Belize, 2001) will be updated using the data collected during this project.

Report now available: Final REA Report December 2003 (pdf: 537 kb)


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Last modified: January 5, 2004