Biodiversity in Belize
Biological Diversity in Belize
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Biodiversity Related Projects by J. Meerman

2016: Methodology to conduct rapid ecological assessments of the impact of hurricane damage to forests and watersheds. Meerman, J.C. & O.A. Sabido. This document presents a practical and concise methodology for the conduct of on-ground rapid ecological assessments.  

2014: Belize Shrimp Farm Biodiversity Inclusive Environmental Impact Assessment (B-EIA and Participatory Social Impact Assessment (p-SIA) carried out for 8 shrimp farms in Belize as part of their ASC certification efforts. The individual reports for the 8 farms are posted here.
GIS and Spatial Datasets for Belize. Jan Meerman has been creating datsets for Belize since 2001 with the publishing of the first version of the Belize Ecoystems Map. Many of the datasets produced are made available through the Spatial Data Warehouse that is located on the BERDS website. Datasets are presented as ArcGIS shapefiles.
Yalbac Forest: Wildlife Monitoring 2013 by Jan Meerman. As part of the FSC certification, Yalbac has initiated a wildlife monitoring program in order to verify that the timber operations do not negatively affect the endangered and/or sensitive species that naturally occur in the area. Monitoring has started in early 2013 and is still being expanded.
Forest Cover and Change in Belize 1990-2000-2005. As part of a regional wide Critical Ecosystems Partnership Fund Project, a forest cover change was conducted For this project, forest was defined as closed canopy, mature natural broadleaf forest and took particular care not to classify secondary growth that was part of an agricultural cycle of slash and burn, as “forest”. The study found a steady but very low level of deforestation of approximately 0.5% annually. This figure is substantially lower than found in earlier studies, none of which followed the same methodology.
New Research in the Sarstoon Temash National Park, Toledo District, Belize: Coring for Pollen in the Sphagnum Bog - January 2010. The unusual find of a Sphagnum peat bog in the coastal lowland tropics of the Sarstoon Temash National Park in the Toledo District, Belize, did raise some eyebrows in the scientific community. Sphagnum is more typical for temperate climates and in the tropics it is generally only found in the highlands where nutrient poor conditions get combined with high rainfall/humidity. Finally, with the help of the Darwin Savanna Ecosystem Assessment Project and the University of Nottingham (UK). First scientif research is being conducted.

PROTECTED AREAS SYSTEMS PLAN FOR ST. KITTS AND NEVIS (Eastern Caribbean) The Governments of the OECS Participating Member States recognised the importance of establishing protected areas as the primary method of preserving biodiversity and conserving valuable natural resources assets. In terms of planning for PAs, only some of the PMSs have Systems Plans in place, most of which are outdated and do not encompass existing and proposed terrestrial and marine areas in a comprehensive nor cohesive manner. The following were the objectives of this study and report:

  • To present a practical, time-frame specific phased approach to implementation of the PA Plan;
  • To provide the full range of required resources and capacity building for establishing and managing the system;
  • To recommend means of financing the operationalisation of the plan;
  • To indicate the level of priority for each of the proposed system components;
  • To provide a means to monitor and evaluate the system and its effectiveness over the timeframe of the plan; and
  • To provide the proposed boundaries of the sites being proposed.

Main Systems Plan Report (1mb), Appendix a (Figures 11 mb).

Rapid Ecological Assessment of a savanna/wetland habitat south of the Southern Lagoon, near Gales Point, Belize district. Vegetation and ecoystem inventories.
Great Potoo Finally confirmed from Belize. Documentation.

Cycad research in Belize. During August and September of 2008, Michael Calonje from Montgomery Botanical Center (MBC) in Miami, Florida led an expedition to Belize with the aim of making taxonomic sense of the Zamia species occurring here. The study led to three papers on the subject. Including the description of 2 new species.

Forest Cover and Change in Belize. Study to establish deforestation over the periods 1990-2000 and 2000-2005 in Key Biodiversity areas using remote sensing analysis. Study funded by the Cricital Ecosystem Partnership Fund 2008-2009.

Key Bioversity Areas in Belize. 2007 Study to establish Key Biodiversity areas for Belize based on IUCN Red List Criteria. Study funded by the Cricital Ecosystem Partnership Fund.

Machaca Hill Lodge, Punta Gorda, Toledo District. 2006. (very) Rapid Ecological Assessment of the grounds of this spectacular lodge. Report focussing on vegetation but with notes on other biodiversity (pdf: 3,802 kb)

Aguacaliente Wildlife Sanctuary, 2006: Rapid Ecological Assessment of this small but important protected area in the Toledo district. The area contains some unique ecosystems and species.

Gragra Lagoon National Park Management Plan 
2006: Management completed for this coastal ecosystem just south of Dangriga in the Stann Creek District (pdf 3,373 kb).
Mangrove and Conservation Value Assessment at Northern Turneffe 
2006: A study carried out on behalf of the Forest Department investigating the status of the Mangrove stands on Northern Turneffe Atoll. Also looks into wildlife issues such as the pledge of the American Crocodile (Crocodylus acutus) (pdf 4.9 mb).

Compilation of Information on Biodiversity in Belize

2006: A compilation of the information of Belize on the state of knowledge and conservation of biodiversity and the species of vertebrates in particular.

Preliminary Survey of Land Degradation in Belize. Meerman & Cherrington, 2005. Study into potential and causes of Land Degradation. Study for the Government of Belize.

National Protected Areas Policy and Systems Plan: Assessment and Analysis

2004-2006: Analysis of the Protected Areas System of Belize with conclusions for its rationalization. Lead Consultant: Jan Meerman, assisted by a consortium of Conservation NGO's and Departments active in Belize.

The Inca Trail for the Ecologically Inclined

2004: Ecological interpretation of the Inca Trail leading to Machu Picchu in the Peruvian Andes.

Rapid Ecological Assessment of the Aguas Turbias National Park, Orange Walk District, Belize.

2003: Reports available from this site.

Rapid Ecological Assessment of the Sarstoon Temash National Park, Toledo District, Belize.

2003: First training workshop was carried out in Barranco village, Toledo.

Rapid Ecological Assessment of Mayflower Bocawina National Park, Stann Creek District, Belize.

2002 - 2003. Results are available from this site.

Belize Aquatic Ecosystems.

Esselman, P., J. Meerman, E. Boles, G. Myvett, J. Higgins, A. Warner, T. Fitzhugh, P. Morgan  & R. Frutos. 2005. 

2003 with 2005 update. Belize Aquatic Ecosystems. 2nd Draft. This national aquatic ecosystems concept is a work in progress, yet to be validated with field data. The concept is the result of a workshop held in Punta Gorda (Toledo district, Belize) in early 2002.  The results were presented at the First Belize Freshwater Summit, 14-15 January, 2003. Sponsored by Programme for Belize and The Nature Conservancy.


This dataset has been expanded with full metadata.


Rapid Ecological Assessment of the Spanish Creek Wildlife Sanctuary, Belize District, Belize.

2002: Results published on this site.


Base line diagnosis on the state of research on biodiversity in Belize 
2002: This overview is the result of a study carried out for the Mesoamerican Biological Corridor System. The aim of the study was to establish a baseline of studies carried out on Belizes biodiversity.

Ecosystems Map of Belize

2001 with 2005 update: This report on Belizean Ecosystems and vegetation types was produced as part of the Central American Ecosystems Map (Worldbank/CCAD) and recognizes 86 different ecosystems for Belize.

A first assessment of damage to terrestrial ecosystems in Southern Belize as caused by Hurricane Iris of October 8, 2001.  

2001: This report describes the different impacts this severe hurricane had on the terrestrial ecosystems of the Toledo district.

Feasibility Study of the Northern Biological Corridor

2001: Details the potential of a Biological Corridor through Northern Belize. With maps and site descriptions. A study commissioned by Programme for Belize. 2001 (Adobe Acrobat 8,469 kb)

Chalillo - Upper Macal River Ecological Assessment.

1999: Mostly Vegetation / Ecosystem data from this ecosystem now inundated by the Chalillo Hydro Facility.

See also the section "Publications"


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