Plan for Belize (PFBELIZE)
CASE NUMBER: 57
CASE MNEMONIC: PFBELIZE
CASE NAME: Programme for Belize
1. The Issue
The Government of Belize, along with international
organizations and corporations, are attempting to preserve the
country's natural resources through a program called the Programme
For Belize (PFB). The supporters of the PFB claim that this
program is committed to the conservation of Belize's natural
resources. It would halt the loss of the country's forest reserves
and at the same time promote the growth of eco-tourism. Critics
argue that programs such as PFB contribute to the depletion of the
natural wildlife of a nation. Whatever the beliefs or the
viewpoints are, the fact that the environment and its consequences
are now being addressed is a major milestone for the country.
The Programme For Belize is embodied in the form of a non-
profit corporation, and was established to bring together
conservation and development. The PFB "exists to develop practical
programmes for the salvation of areas of natural vegetation in a
manner that benefits the local economy on a sustainable basis" and
is set in a formal agreement with the Government of Belize, signed
in 1988 and modified in 1991. The program is dedicated to
intelligent use of the vast bio-diversity of the country, which
includes the rain forest and also its coastal marine resources.
The program intends to bring conservation awareness to the many
visitors that come year around to be close to nature, as well as
The PFB recognizes the increasing appeal of the rain forest,
wetlands, swamps, lagoons and the barrier reef as tourist
attractions. The uniqueness of the natural resources is mainly
preserved in the rain forest, and provides many educational
opportunities. The PFB strives to offer a cultural dimension in
which eco-tourism becomes part of the visitor's trip and his/her
Eco-tourism represents a small but growing marketplace for the
tourism business. Eco-tourism has been promoted as a as viable
means for communities and individuals to earn their living.
However, the growth of this market has been questioned, because it
lacks proper infrastructure for tourism, and the probable
exploitation of the natural wildlife. Moreover, eco-tourism has
also interfered with the landscape of the natural wildlife. Until
now eco-tourism projects have been small scale operations built on
ecologically sensitive regions.
Many critics of eco-tourism, and specifically the PFB, argue
that the missing component from this and other eco-tourism programs
is real contact with natural habitats. Although the goal of eco-
tourism is promote sensitivity with nature, some tourists discover
otherwise, finding instead paved roads and comfortable hotels.
Some critics argue that there should be guidelines for the building
of tourist facilities concerning the ecological characteristics on
the site. Some of these guidelines include:
þ Site buildings and structures should avoid cutting
significant trees and minimize disruption of other
þ Trail systems should respect travel patterns and habitats
þ Erosion control should be considered in the building of
þ Trail crossing points at rivers and streams should be
þ Shorelines and beach fronts should not be intensely
cleared of vegetation.
þ Use of automobiles and other fuel consumption vehicles
should be strictly limited.
þ Trail head signs should enhance appreciation of the
natural environment and clearly establish rules of
The socio-cultural rewards from programs such as the PFB and
the approach to eco-tourism are also under debate because they
disrupt local cultures and traditions. Tourism, in the long term,
may interfere with the traditional skills and lifestyles of
indigenous people, thereby contributing to the loss of the
community's identity. Finally, eco-tourism can also contribute to
unregulated travel to the natural areas, which can cause serious
destruction of the environment. This devastation can include trail
erosion and pollution from litter, disruption of wildlife migration
and the depletion of natural resources from hunting and plant
Promoting eco-tourism is intended as a counter-balance to
years of destructive logging in Belize. "This area [around the Rio
Bravo River] had been severely affected by illegal and uncontrolled
logging in the 1980s...The timber harvest impact assessment work is
being developed in conjunction with the Manomet Bird Observatory
and the Natural History Museum, London."
Moreover, the PFB has significantly made an effort in
acquiring control in the rain forest area. The PFB called for
control in the areas of logging and milling operations to manage
inventory planning in the development of wood products. This
should ensure added value to the forest products in Belize. For
example, rather than the traditional export of raw timber, the PFB
called for the exportation of finished goods which in part will
also serve the needs of the local community (see BRAZIL case).
3. Related Cases
(1): Trade Product = TOURism
(2): Bio-geography = TROPical
(3): Environmental Problem = DEFORestation
4. Draft Author: Marlon Vallejo
B. LEGAL Filters
5. Discourse and Status: AGReement and COMPlete
6. Forum and Scope: BELIZE and UNILATeral
The decision is between the government of Belize and a non-
7. Decision Breadth: 1 (Belize)
8. Legal Standing: NGO
Although the PFB is an NGO, it has acknowledged links to the
government of Belize.
C. GEOGRAPHIC Filters
9. Geographic Locations
Since 1964, Belize has been a self-governing country and
gained its independence from Great Britain in 1981. The country
has a multi-ethnic population of roughly 200,000 and a form of
government that is generally stable in comparison to other Latin
America. With a size of 8,867 square miles and relatively small
population, the country enjoys a vast area of rain forest. Belize
borders Mexico to the north and northwest, Guatemala to the south
and southwest, and the Caribbean Sea to the east. One of its
unique physical features is the best preserved barrier reef in the
Western Hemisphere (see CORAL
case). Other features, the low coastal lands and the dry coastal
plains, make Belize a nation of rich, natural wonders.
a. Geographic Domain : North America [NAMER]
b. Geographic Site : Southern North America [SNAMER]
c. Geographic Impact : BELIZE
10. Sub-National Factors: NO
11. Type of Habitat: TROPical
The principal location of the Program For Belize is
concentrated on 81,000 hectares of land, centered at the Rio Bravo
Conservation and Management Area (RBCMA). This project is located
at the north-west side of the country on the Guatemalan border.
Within its area, there are resources of forests, swamps, wetlands,
palm-dominated forests and lagoons. The RBCMA management objective
is to show that it is economically feasible to use the forest with
the primary goal of conservation of biological diversity. Projects
are subject to strict monitoring and impact assessment.
D. TRADE Filters
12. Type of Measure: Regulatory Standard [REGSTD]
The measure is a regulatory standard regarding forestry in
certain parts of the country.
13. Direct vs. Indirect Impacts: INDirect
The promote of tourism is an indirect impact, because the
program would attempt to drawn domestic and international visitors.
14. Relation of Trade Measure to Resource Impact
a. Directly Related : YES WOOD
b. Indirectly Related : YES WOOD products
c. Not Related : YES TOURism
d. Process Related : YES DEFORestation
The PFB sets asides large forest areas that have been sites
for timber cutting. The forest timber has often been for export.
15. Trade Product Identification: WOOD (and TOURism)
The number of tourist visiting the natural resources of Belize
is greatly expanding. Visitors arrival increased from 64,229 in
1983 to 221,826 in 1990 (see Table III-57-1). Over 37 percent of
visitors to Belize come from the United States, bringing much
needed hard currency into the country.
16. Economic Data
Recent data also shows that almost 9,000 people works directly
or indirectly in the eco-tourist sector. Compared to previous
years, this indicated that jobs related to tourism directly or
indirectly is increasing by 6 to 8 percent annually.
[Table III-57-1 about here]
The rationale for protecting the forest area as a medium of
tourism is to protect the environment and raise incomes. For
example, it has been estimated that as many as 235 million people
participated in international eco-tourism in 1988, resulting in an
economic impact (contribution to national income) that may have
been as large as $233 billion spread across many countries of the
world. Further, it is also estimated that eco-tourism may attract
as many as 157 million travelers.
According to a study done by Fern Filion, the integration of
tourism and the environment through eco-tourism may provide an
influential tool for the conservation of natural wildlife in three
1. Increasing the awareness and value of natural wildlife on both
local and international levels.
2. Contributing to the socio-economic incentives to preserving
the natural wildlife in order to maintain wildlife population
and habitats. This may contribute to the influx of foreign
currency much needed for capital investment.
3. Creating socio-political pressure on the local and
international level in order to preserve the biological
resources for current and future generations.
Filion argues that the "Programme For Belize" is committed to
the preservation of the natural wildlife and the economic
development. He also notes that the PFB ensures that the people of
Belize gain the economic benefits directly or indirectly from the
different activities the PFB carries. In generating programs such
as PFB, the goal is to attract investors who look at the rain
forest as a place for conservation and economic development.
17. Degree of Competitive Impact: BAN
The plan would legally ban the cutting of wood and therefore
18. Industry Sector: WOOD and TOURism
Eco-tourism is a form of tourism that is inspired primarily by
the natural history and the environment of an area, including its
indigenous culture and people. The eco-tourist visits relatively
undeveloped areas in the spirit of appreciation, participation and
sensitivity. The main goal of eco-tourism is to attract the
immense tourism market to the natural areas of the country.
Profits that may originate from this program are used for
sustainable economic development and to fund local conservation
projects for the preservation of the environment.
Eco-tourism requires a managed approach by the host country or
region, along with the local community, and a commitment to
establishing and maintaining the sites, marketing them
appropriately, enforcing regulations, and using the proceeds of the
enterprise to fund the area's land management and community
From a marketing perspective, eco-tourism is being divided
into three general types: Pure Ecotourism, Natural/Cultural
tourism, Natural-oriented tourism.
Pure Ecotourism: This type consist of programs that are
developed around the tourist's interest in the environment and that
also provide an educational experience. Programs are based on
small groups, in which environmentally sound facilities are used.
The travelers participating in these programs tend to be much
younger, and are very supportive on protecting the environment.
The short or long term impact on the economy tends to be low.
Natural/Cultural Tourism: For eco-tourism, this is a main
market. The programs are organized by tour operators for small
groups. They travel into the forest to observe wildlife.
Travelers are mainly middle income adults. Their trips into the
wilderness include bird watchers, cultural tourists, hikers, and
general outdoors recreationists. This form of travel is most
commonly used as eco-tourism and is considered to have a low impact
on the natural wildlife.
Natural-Oriented Tourism: This form of eco-tourism forms the
largest mass of tourism. Its impact on employment and the economy
is the greatest so far. The main industries forming these areas
are cruise ships, large hotels, and resorts which are located close
to nature areas.
Given these different definitions of eco-tourism, it has been
suggested that eco-tourism is growing at the rate of about 20
percent a year and this generates a range between $5-10 billion a
19. Exporter and Importer: BELIZE and MANY
Industry is cooperating with PFB. Wade Furniture, a furniture
manufacturer, uses mahogany in its products. It has reached an
agreement with PFB in sponsoring research on the sustainable use of
forest products. Company activities will be voluntarily monitored.
"And in the same way, Montagne Jeunesse is developing an agreement
with PFB to use plant extracts from the Rio Bravo River area as
preservatives and coloring for its natural products."
E. ENVIRONMENT Filters
20. Environmental Problem Type: DEFORestation
The problem of preserving forest areas has occurred in Belize
and other countries in the western hemisphere. Countries such as
Costa Rica, Dominica, and Ecuador, have made their natural habitats
tourist attractions. For example, a Costa Rican park system has
been developed with the support of biologists and other
conservationists that are concerned about the future of the forest
(see MERCK case). Costa Rica has
over fifty-five protected units as a national park. These parks
shelter thousands species of plants, mammals, birds, and reptiles
that have been identified. PFB is also cooperating with Coral Cay
Conservation in research on the coastal sea zone in Belize.
A popular eco-tourism site in Costa Rica is "Monteverde
Reserve", a private reserve where tourism has increased in recent
years. The economic impact has been spread to the surrounding
communities. Here, eco-tourism has been the second largest source
of income after dairy production. The sale of souvenirs and crafts
in shops is very profitable, and the increase number of tourists
has demanded more souvenirs in the area.
There has been much debate over the economic impact of eco-
tourism. Although it is clear that eco-tourism is a great source
of income for the community, there are concerns about its impact
for residents who want to keep this tourism on a small scale.
Lands value around the Reserve is among the most expensive in Costa
Rica, which raises costs for locals who use the land for
In Ecuador, the eco-tourism industry has been expanding on a
small scale. A major tourist attraction of Ecuadorian eco-tourism
is the Yasuni National Park which is located at the Amazon
territory. Yasuni is the largest protected area in Ecuador, but is
threatened by the continuing exploitation of wood and the
exploration of oil (see ECUADOR
The greatest economy activity of eco-tourism is being
surrounded at the "Galapagos National Park." The income generated
from entrance fees and travelers expending is much greater
comparing to the other national parks. As a result, the GNP per
capita of the Galapagos Island is the highest in Ecuador (see GALAPAG case). Traditionally,
fishing has been the main source of income in the Galapagos, but
many fishing boats are being converting into day tour boats because
of the higher income that it brings.
21. Name, Type, and Diversity of Species
Name: Tropical Hardwoods
Diversity: 2,200 higher plants per 10,000 km/sq (Belize)
22. Resource Impact and Effect: LOW and Structural [STRCT]
The influx of tourism in Belize has resulted in an increasing
awareness of the area's ecological sensitiveness. This has given
a new value to the natural wilderness for nationals. Until now,
environmental impact has been minimal.
23. Urgency and Lifetime: LONG and 100s of years
The effort is aimed at maintaining an entire eco-system.
24. Substitutes: Eco-tourism [ECOTR]
In this case eco-tourism is being suggested as a solution to
a deforestation problem.
VI. OTHER Factors
25. Culture: YES
Timber harvesting had been occurring in areas that are
traditional Indian homes in Belize. This was threatening their
traditional lifestyle, but eco-tourism may prove as disruptive in
26. Trans-Border: YES
Poaching of lumber from Belize to Guatemala has been reported.
Guatemala only recently officially renounced its claim to Belize.
27. Human Rights: NO
28. Relevant Literature
Annual Abstract of Statistics. Washington, DC: World Bank,
Boo, Elizabeth. Ecotourism: The Potentials and Pitfalls,
Volume 2. Washington D.C.: World Wildlife Fund 1990.
Caribbean/Latin American Action files. "Document of the Inter
American Investment Corporation" (March 1993).
Collier's Encyclopedia 1990 ed. London and New York:
P.F. Collier, 30A.
"Country Report, Belize". The Economist Intelligence Unit.
London: The Unit, 1990.
Filion, Fern; Foley, James P.; and Jacquemot, Andre J. "The
Economics of Global Ecotourism." Caracas, Venezuela,
Grant, Joy A. "Conservation and Sustainable Development: An
approach by The Programme For Belize" (December 1992).
Limberg, Kreg, and Hawkins, Donald. Eco-Tourism: A
Guide for Planning and Manager. The Ecotourism Society,
Programme for Belize 7 (Saxmundham, Suffolk, England, September
1992, UK edition).
"Tourism and Economic Development." Inter-American Investment
Development. March, 1993: 21.
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