Shipstern Conservation &
The Shipstern C&MA has long been recognized as one of the key protected areas of Belize as it protects an array of rare habitats, some of them unique for Belize. The forests in and around Shipstern have been regenerating almost with no disturbance since Hurricane Janet destroyed the entire area in 1955. As such, and although still secondary in stature, the forests of Shipstern can be considered as pristine.
In 2013, CSFI concentrated its efforts in saving Freshwater Creek Forest Reserve, which was in the process of being invaded by illegal agricultural activities, a situation that may have led to the downsizing or even dereserving of the forest reserve. In the year 2014-2016, the forest management team of CSFI carried out ground-breaking forestry work, with the aim of getting a better understanding of Freshwater Creek’s forests. Also, High Conservation Value areas (HCVs) were designated, which in turn allowed to designate which part of the reserve would become production forests.
In 2017, the last preliminary studies will take place, aiming at understanding what costs are involved when rehabilitating, thinning and replanting the forests of Freshwater Creek.
CSFI is convinced that there is a potential for sustainable forest management that is presently untapped in the area. Corozal’s hardwood phenotypes are among the best in Central America, especially for mahogany, and protecting and nurturing this natural resource over the long term would represent a serious livelihood benefit and resource-generating activity. Markets for responsible hardwoods are bound to increase, as well as prices, since demand is quickly outstripping the unsustainably-logged supply.
- Sustainable forestry through gap planting techniques, with an initial “planting only” period for approximately two decades, and rotational harvesting thereafter (in process)
- Sustainable harvest of timber and non-timber products, such as palm leaves for thatch roofing, poles and other decorative woods, etc. (in process)
- Protecting core areas as seed banks and as High Conservation Value forests/habitats (done)
- Creating a hardwood tree nursery for the Forest Reserve and community benefit (done)
- Building headquarters for staff (done), and in time, a forestry institute, a recreational area, a visitors’ centre and an arboretum
- Establish international partnership with worldwide institutes working on sustainable forestry and create a centre of reference in Belize.
Honey Camp as such is managed as a biodiversity reservoir and a haven of tranquillity for fauna, in close tandem with Freshwater Creek Forest Reserve. In essence, Honey Camp National Park acts as a High Conservation Value area for Freshwater Creek. In due course, and if funds are available, a tented ranger / tourism infrastructure will be constructed, to make surveillance and visits respectively more efficient and more pleasant.