Belize is making gigantic leaps forward in preserving and protecting its natural heritage. On February 13, 2018, the Belizean legislature passed a bill to create Central America's largest biological corridor. In coordination with local NGOs and private landowners, the biological corridor will allow some of Belize's most iconic animals like jaguars and pumas to freely travel between the Shipstern Nature Reserve and the Freshwater Creek Forest Reserve.
A decade ago, most of northeastern Belize was covered in old-growth forest. But an expansion in agricultural lands has begun to push into wildlife habitats in the region. The new biological corridor will allow animals to follow their natural migration patterns and transit between the wetter, more humid coastal region to the drier, deciduous forest region in the interior. Sections of the new biological corridor which are under private ownership will be placed in a perpetual trust that will be managed by according to national conservation laws.
In related news, the Belizean government has also passed a new law to completely phase out the use of plastic food utensils and single-use plastic bags. On March 20, 2018, an inter-departmental parliamentary committee passed a bill into law which will ban the manufacture and sale of plastic food utensils, plastic silverware, plastic cups, Styrofoam products, and single-use plastic shopping bags beginning on April 22, 2019.
The move was warmly welcomed by vendors in Belize who already sell durable, multi-use shopping bags and biodegradable cups, plates, silverware, and other similar food-grade products. Unlike Styrofoam and traditional plastics, plant-based dishes and silverware naturally bio-degrade and thus, do not need to be buried in landfills or come to rest on the side of highways as litter, blighting the natural beauty of the country and causing damage to wildlife which mistake these items for food.
The new move to ban plastic dishes and silverware is estimated to reduce Belize's overall solid waste production by a staggering 19%. Currently, the government and local NGOs organize yearly clean-ups of the beach to help reduce the amount of pollution in the offshore waters of Belize.
"We enthusiastically welcome the Belizean government's creation of a biological wildlife corridor as well as the new law to phase out plastic bags and Styrofoam," said a spokesperson for the Cahal Pech Village Resort. "We welcome honeymooners, families, and adventure travelers to visit this wonderful country so that they can experience the authentic beauty of Belize for themselves."