Rangers on the Front Line of Conservation in Belize
Rangers for the Toledo Institute for Development and Environment (TIDE) and Programme for Belize (PfB) play critically important roles in Belize conservation.
A comprehensive protection program is essential to deter and prevent any unauthorized usage including illegal logging, illegal hunting, illegal fishing, poaching, illegal crop cultivation, and trespassing on all the reserves, lands, and waterways that they protect and manage.
Rangers patrol by vehicle, on foot, by boat, and by all-terrain motorcycles. In northern Belize, they also conduct four quarterly aerial patrols (Rio Bravo has 254,000 acres) to detect and prevent illegal forest clearing and illegal crop cultivation.
It’s important to run 3-4 aerial patrols per season in order to prevent illegal cultivators from completing their crop cycle—and one aerial patrol costs $800–$1,000, depending on the flight time.
TIDE and PfB each have a multi-pronged approach. In addition to ranger patrols and surveillance cameras, both organizations keep close connections to the surrounding communities, including hiring locals to work on the reserves. These are people who might otherwise be cutting down the forest for agriculture or poaching—who have some influence in, and can share best practices with, their community.
However, more funds and resources are needed to hire additional rangers and do more outreach with the communities to provide them with alternatives, including employment as rangers.