GEF/SGP Case Study: Belize’s biodiversity is exposed to various direct anthropogenic and natural threats system. Over the last three decades the forest cover in Belize has decreased steadily due to the expansion of economic activities, such as large-scale agriculture and aquaculture. Rapid and uncontrolled coastal development has resulted in increased habitat loss in the coastal zone. It is estimated that about 75-80% of all coastal land in Belize has been purchased for the development of tourism and residential areas, posing a serious threat to mangroves, coastal wetlands, and other coastal ecosystems (Young, 2008). Overfishing and illegal fishing continue to put stress on the ecosystems.
To reduce fishing pressures in and around the Belize Barrier Reef Reserve System, the UNDP implemented GEF Small Grants Programme (SGP) provided technical
and financial support to the Placencia Producers Cooperative Society Limited (PPCSL), under a special initiative called the Community Management of Protected Areas Conservation (COMPACT) co-financed by the United Nations Foundation. The project introduced local fishers and tour guides to sustainable seaweed production, provided technical assistance, procured necessary materials, and established seaweed farms. The first project focused on the area in Placencia and the second project was implemented to expand the intiative in Gladden Spit and Silk Cayes Marine Reserve.
The local community provided support in ensuring that all activities such as preparation of ropes, buoys, anchors, and the transportation of materials to sites were carried out properly. Community members also participated in focus group meetings and were actively involved in the planting and monitoring of the seaweed farms as well as in seaweed harvesting. As a result of the community involvement, 43 seaweed farms were established, doubling the original 20 seaweed farms envisioned in the two project proposals.
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