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National Protected Areas Policy and Systems Plan

 

Gra Gra Lagoon National Park

Stann Creek District, Belize

Gra Gra Lagoon National Park is located near the coast just below the town of Dangriga, the capital of the Stann Creek District (figure 1). The park was established in 2002 and covers approximately 1,197 acres (485 ha). The very shallow brackish lagoon of 300 acres (120 ha) is the centerpiece of the park but the protected area also includes the greater part of the surrounding mangrove system, excepting that on the seaward (southern) shore. The mangrove grades into swamp forest and lowland forest on the inland (northern) side. There are patches of tall herbaceous swamp behind the beach-crest close and entering the park boundary and large areas of freshwater reed swamps within the forested swamplands.

right click to copy larger imageGra Gra Lagoon was established as National Park under the National Parks System Act, 1981. The classification “National Park” indicates that the area is declared for the protection and preservation of natural and scenic values of national significance and for the benefit and enjoyment of the general public. As such Gra Gra Lagoon National Park conforms with IUCN Category ii.

Based on the National Park Systems Act, allowed activities in a national Park include; research, education and tourism. As a national park, statutory responsibility for site management lies with the Forest Department. Day-to-day administration has, however, been devolved through a formal co-management agreement to Friends of Gra Gra, a local community group.

The Friends of Gra Gra has been active since the late 1990s. It was established as a membership organization with the objectives of conserving and managing local natural resources, preserving the biodiversity of Gra Gra and its environment, and involvement in environmental action in general. The declaration of Gra Gra lagoon as a national park was a key aim, successfully achieved largely due to Friends of Gra Gra advocacy.

Friends of Gra Gra are hoping to increase the economic value of the lagoon by developing tourism activities.

One of the activities organized include guides canoe tours. All tours need to be arranged in advance. Contact Friends of Gra Gra by email or phone (501) 502-0043 or 600-6222.

 

 

 

Ecosystems map:

 

Vegetation

The dominant flora of the Gra Gra Lagoon National Park is mangrove consisting of all three species:
• Red mangrove (Rhizophora mangle)
• Black mangrove (Avicennia germinans)
• White mangrove (Laguncularia racemosa)
These species apart from their dominance represent the principal conservation feature of the park. A very dominant associate of the mangrove is the white flowering
• mangrove vine; Rhabdadenia biflora.
It is important to note that Mangrove as an ecosystem was identified as a conservation target within the National Protected Areas Policy and Systems Plan analysis.

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Last modified: November 10, 2007