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Protecting Habitats in Belize

EPI Introduces New Partnership with Toucan Ridge Ecology and Education Society (T.R.E.E.S.) for 2023 Belize Programs.

The country of Belize is home to incredible biodiversity—not to mention the world’s second largest barrier reef. Its crystalline waters, swaying seagrass beds, and lush jungles offer critical habitat for bats, tropical birds, multiple species of sea turtles, and a subspecies of endangered West Indian manatees. Beneath vibrant jungle canopies and along sparkling white sand beaches, life in Belize abounds.

But habitat loss, human pressures, and the impacts of climate change are real threats to the ecosystem. Sea temperatures rise every year. Storms are more frequent and more intense. A larger body of data on the country’s wildlife is needed to shape conservation policies, and greater public awareness will be key to helping Belize safeguard its future.

Critical Conservation Partners in Belize

The Toucan Ridge Ecology and Education Society (T.R.E.E.S.) is dedicated to conserving Belize’s natural and cultural heritage. Based at a welcoming research station in central Belize, T.R.E.E.S. works to achieve this through education, local and international networking, capacity building, and conservation-based community projects. Their ecological studies include avian, small mammal, and herpetological monitoring and habitat restoration projects.

“All of the research we do at T.R.E.E.S. is shared with the Belize Forestry Department and the Environmental Research Institute administered by the University of Belize. Additionally, we do direct outreach into neighboring communities about the projects we’re working on. Essentially everything we do is shared with our community.” -Vanessa Kilburn, T.R.E.E.S. Director, Wildlife Biologist, and Program Manager.

Student and Teacher Involvement in Belize

Ecology Project International is honored to begin a new partnership with T.R.E.E.S., starting with our 2023 student programs. Students enrolled in these courses will have the opportunity to contribute to ongoing projects alongside T.R.E.E.S. researchers, from bat diversity to manatee conservation to sea turtle monitoring. They’ll dive into practical field research techniques as they conduct vegetation surveys, set up camera traps, or assist in manatee population assessments. They’ll also immerse themselves in Belizean culture with a guided snorkeling excursion and a cultural tour at Gale’s Point Village.

Are you interested in working with EPI and T.R.E.E.S. to help protect wildlife and critical habitat in Belize? Learn more about EPI's Belize Marine Ecology Program for students or the Belize NGSS Training for educators.

“We are especially excited about the research potential and local incidence of the work our participants will be doing in Belize in collaboration with T.R.E.E.S. The Belize program is an incredible blend between strong research, adventure, and a rich cultural immersion, facilitated by a local organization that has the track record, cultural sensitivity, and context knowledge to deliver an authentic experience to our participants.” - Miguel Fuentes, Director of Operations and Innovation in Programs at EPI




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