Belize‘s highly productive coastal zone is characterised by diverse ecosystems and multiple, competing uses. Coastal population density, broad-range fisheries activities and a flourishing tourism industry are driving construction of new coastal development, urban areas and ports.
Despite the importance of Belize’s coastal zone to the national economy and health of its citizens, an integrated plan— to ensure that existing resource uses and expanding human activities do not trigger conflicts among stakeholders or put their wellbeing at risk — has not yet been implemented. Until 2011, relevant information and tools were too widely dispersed across various institutions and ministries, hindering comprehensive coastal management planning.
WWF and the Natural Capital Project supported the Belizean Coastal Zone Management Authority and Institute (CZMAI) to develop an ecosystem-based, scientifically and economically sound management plan. The result balances conservation, sustainable resource use and development needs by integrating available information. This solution maps and values ecosystem services using a stakeholder participation process and elaborating alternative future scenarios. In so doing, the plan predicts and clearly visualises how, under each scenario, changes in ecosystem function will affect returns from ecosystem services. The resulting maps and conclusions are crucial decision-making tools used to inform national management planning.