I have the great fortune of studying in Belize at an amazing time of costal consideration and ecosystem development as a plan regarding the future of the coast has recently been enacted; as with any long-term change, there were plenty of variables to consider before determining the best method and I will attempt to summarize the primary options considered here.
The first method is to develop all of the area along the coastline as it would generate excellent, immediate income for the country; however, this would come at the expense of 50% functional mangrove area, and 90% functional coral and seagrass.
The middle-road or compromise option is known as informed management; this method seeks to increase tourism and functional marine habitats while allowing enough development to stimulate the economy.
The final method is to conserve the entire costal area because it would show long-term benefits to the reef, thus greatly increasing reef-based tourism, though it would decimate all developmental efforts.
Recently, the informed management method was employed and it is projected that Belize should maintain development while seeing increases in tourism, damages avoided, lobster revenue, and functional habitat.
As this costal plan is fairly new, the country is just beginning to see the positive impacts of satisfying tourist needs, as tourism currently accounts for approximately one third of the country’s income, by providing visitors with both a pristine habitat to explore and the infrastructure to support it.
My source, http://www.pnas.org/content/112/24/7390.full.pdf, is thoroughly condensed here and more fully describes the impacts of each approach. I strongly suggest reading it and watching the development of Belize, as I will, as the implementation continues.
If you have questions or suggestions of natural features or wildlife of Belize for me to discuss here, please contact me at [email protected]