Marine conservation holiday in Belize
Are you looking for an adventurous trip with a purpose, or on a gap year or career break? If you want to make a difference in some of the world’s most important conservation areas - and in community projects - then volunteer trips are for you! Volunteers tend to have a sense of adventure, and come from a range of different backgrounds and from all over the world.
Edward Abbey said 'sentiment without action is the ruin of the soul'.
How Marine conservation holiday in Belize makes a difference
This project launched in March 2010 and is in its early stages. Research is being carried out to assess coral reef health, fish stocks and the numbers of large predators and mammals such as manatees and sharks. In addition we are collecting data on the prevalence of lionfish, a new threat to reef eco-systems in the Caribbean. Analysis of data collected and conservation strategies will begin later this year once the results can be assessed and following discussions with local, national and international partners.
Our volunteer expeditions are focused on the collection of meaningful data which is used to develop sustainable local environmental management plans for the unique reef systems. These plans focus on improving the quality of life of the local communities who depend on these marine resources, while maintaining the biological diversity and productivity of the reefs. The village of Sarteneja is the largest fishing community in Belize. With a population of over 2000, the majority of whom are employed in the fishing fleet, Sarteneja is critically dependent on the continued viability of Belize’s coastal marine resources.
The Belize Barrier Reef is listed as a UNESCO Natural World Heritage Site and benefits from extensive monitoring and conservation efforts on the southern coast. However, there are areas in the north, such as those in the Bacalar Chico Marine Reserve where monitoring is less prevalent and it is these areas in which we will be carrying out research and conservation work.
During the dive phase of our trip electricity is provided by a generator and this is limited to a few hours per day to reduce fuel use. In addition diving activity is organised to reduce boat time and fuel use, for example, wherever possible diving and training occurs at near shore sites and multi-tank dives are used to reduce the need for return trips to base to collect new dive tanks.
The project was set up in consultation with the Belize Fisheries Department, WWF Central America and the Sartegna Alliance for Conservation and Development. The need for meaningful and regular data about the health of the Mesoamerican reef system has been the main focus for 2010 and all data are collected in collaboration and with guidance from the Belize Fisheries Department in line with the methods detailed in the Mesoamerican Barrier Reef Systems Project.
All our volunteers are given guidance about local culture and environment prior to their trip in guides and during site briefings. For much of our volunteers time in Belize they are hosted by Belizean families in homestays where they are immersed in local culture and spend time with local families.
Accommodation is a mix of home-stays run by local people and with the finance and agreements managed by a village association. All meals during our trips are provided by the Home-stay association and therefore all food and accommodation revenue during our trips in mainland Belize is directed towards a community organisation. During the dive phase of the project volunteers live in basic accommodation within a Marine Park managed by locally managed partner and Shipstern Nature Reserve.
Marine conservation holiday in Belize