Belize’s Most Popular Protected Areas Get Gold Standard Certified

by Carolee Chanona
the cockscomb basin wildlife sanctuary

There’s nothing like being in Belize’s wild spaces and witnessing its wildlife. Imagine, as a country paving a way forward for conservation with monumental moves such as a gillnet ban and indefinite moratorium on offshore oil exploration, there’s 103 protected areas to explore. As the Belize Tourism Board puts it best, “Belize is a preservation-first destination.” Explore its 36% of terrain and 608,740 acres of marine preservation; it’s the beauty of areas like Hol Chan Marine Reserve, Gladden Spit & Silk Caye Marine Reserve, and Golden Stream Corridor Preserve, that makes preservation efforts a top priority for Belize. And now, some of Belize’s most popular protected areas are Gold Standard Certified: all seven sites that’s co-managed by the Belize Audubon Society.

Protected Areas co-managed by Belize Audubon Society:

Fun Fact: St. Herman’s Blue Hole National Park was awarded as 2018’s Tourism Site of the Year, while Half Moon Caye Natural Monument was awarded 2019’s Tourism Site of the Year.

A BAS Protected Area Spotlight: Half Moon Caye Natural Monument

Half Moon Caye by BAS

Half Moon Caye Natural Monument. Photo courtesy Belize Audubon Society

Belize is a top travel destination, and the success of our tourism growth is equal to the quality of services provided on a daily basis. Impressively, Half Moon Caye Natural Monument—co-managed by the Belize Audubon Society—was awarded Belize’s Tourism Site of the Year for 2019 by the Belize Tourism Board! After all, fifty-five miles from Belize City is Belize’s most eastern territory. Here, visitors can be the first in the country to see the sunrise at Half Moon Caye Natural Monument (HMCNM). Designated a Crown Reserve (1928) and the first Protected Area in country (1982), Half Moon Caye is also Belize’s oldest site for wildlife protection.

site of the year

Sunrise on Half Moon Caye. Photo by Carolee Chanona

The token lighthouse on the island is nearly 90 years old (dated from 1930); first built on the base of the previous 1848 structure, which itself replaced the first one built-in 1820. However, the historic lighthouse has given in to age and weather today, with remnants amongst coral rubble on its coastline. While in Belize, venture out to Lighthouse Reef Atoll and experience Half Moon Caye for yourself! Whether its to see the rare white-phased Red-footed Booby birds, its turtle nesting beach, or simply enjoy the postcard-perfect shoreline. Not to mention, each visit to a BAS Site helps to fund its sustainable conservation. 

Header photo by Belize Audubon Society. Tourism Sites are apart of the certification process in Belize’s Expanded Safe Corridor

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