Integrated Coastal & Marine Spatial Planning in Belize
The Natural Capital Project (NatCap) and WWF are supporting the Belize Coastal Zone Management Authority and Institute (CZMAI) in developing an Integrated Coastal Zone Management Plan (ICZMP) that will guide future coastal permitting and zoning in Belize. Together, the team is consulting stakeholders to understand their use of, and visions for, the coastal zone. We are also mapping and valuing marine environmental services provided now and under alternative zoning schemes in the future. The results have been used to produce a coastal zone management plan for the entire Belizean Coast that designates areas for preservation, restoration, development, and other uses. This plan reflects local visions and values, is based on the best available science, and once finalized by the end of 2013, will enhance the coastal zone's ability to provide for people now and in the future.
Belize is managing threats to coastal ecosystems with long-term, comprehensive appraisals of their ecological and economic impacts
The 1998 passage of visionary legislation establishing the Coastal Zone Management Authority and Institute (CZMAI) has created the opportunity to develop a national Integrated Coastal Zone Management Plan (ICZMP) in Belize. A partnership between the Natural Capital Project and the CZMAI is bringing together the essential elements of an authoritative ICZMP, including the scientific knowledge, economic valuation, spatial planning, and political and social support necessary to bring this plan to fruition. Once completed, the Plan will establish a marine and coastal zoning scheme, preserve national opportunities for sustainable development and economic growth, and promote long-term viability of this treasured barrier reef. The project's overarching objectives are to:
- Understand how people use the coastal zone
- Map and value coastal environmental services
- Create a revised ICZMP that designates areas for preservation, restoration, development, and other uses
Our collaborative effort synthesizes available data on the current condition of Belize's coastal and marine ecosystems, the human activities impacting their provision of critical benefits, and the zoning and use recommendations of local Belizean stakeholders. NatCap's InVEST software is helping to resolve conflicts among competing development interests by clearly communicating options to managers and stakeholders. Together NatCap, WWF, and the CZMAI aim to create an ICZMP that reflects local visions and values, is based on the best available science, and will sustain local livelihoods across Belize's coastal zones.
Managing Complex Tradeoffs along Belize's Coastal Zone
Tradeoffs involved in alternative management plans illustrate the complexity of coastal zone management decisions. Results thus far indicate that where coastal development expands, risk to sensitive habitat generally increases, lobster catch and revenue decline, and areas of the coastline vulnerable to storm surges expand. However, intensified development can also benefit local livelihoods and increase revenue from recreation and tourism activities. NatCap helps decision makers manage complex and multifaceted tradeoffs by analyzing relationships between specific investment opportunities and their environmental or economic impacts. For example, we look at:
The extent to which mangrove forests and coral reefs mitigate the need to invest in protective coastal seawalls
The impact of oil exploration and intensive aquaculture on lobster catches
The impact of habitat conservation on long-term tourism revenue
Comparing Zoning Options with InVEST: Turneffe Atoll
Although national in scope, the ICZMP builds upon efforts at the local level to develop sustainable resource guidelines. These efforts are coordinated with Coastal Advisory Committees from nine planning regions along the coast and offshore cayes and atolls. On Turneffe Atoll, a pioneering set of development guidelines were finalized in 2003. Three zoning options were explored for Turneffe Atoll that emphasize different stakeholder priorities. Different levels of permitted coastal development, transportation, and dredging practices affect the mangrove, coral and seagrass habitats supporting the Spiny Lobster population. Changes in the expected annual catch and revenue generated by the lobster industry are also calculated and displayed for each scenario. These tradeoff maps produced with InVEST provide guidance for government agencies and users that must collaboratively manage these systems, by identifying the magnitude and locations of conflicting uses and comparing the outcomes for multiple services.
Advancing Dialogue: Beyond the Ecosystem/Economy Divide
In support of Belize's first nationally integrated plan to manage coastal resources, NatCap and its partners gathered comprehensive scientific knowledge about local ecosystems and garnered sociopolitical support to overcome ad hoc development decisions. This inclusive process of developing the ICZMP is advancing the dialogue beyond sector-specific issues and providing an open platform for stakeholder and government discussions about realistic development tradeoffs. More broadly, it opens opportunities for coordinating sustainable economic growth and ensuring the long-term viability of Belize's natural capital and the full range of benefits it provides to people.
Updates from the Field
As a specialist in mapping, Gregg Verutes never expected his work to translate quickly and dramatically into conservation victories on the ground. The maps he constructs using Geographic Information Systems (GIS) for WWF's Conservation Science Program are science-based depictions of nature's value that guide conservation priorities and inform policymaking. They are rarely used in public votes to motivate everyday citizens to act. But one map he created had stark and immediate impact. The depiction—of Belize's coast overlaid with a black patch the size and shape of the Gulf Coast oil spill—impressed on average Belizeans just what was at stake in an upcoming referendum on whether to allow further oil exploration and drilling in coastal waters.
The San Pedro Sun reported on a recent public consultation meeting led by CZMAI to review ecosystem service outcomes of different options for a national Coastal Zone Management Plan. Based on an interview with CZMAI CEO Vincent Gillett, the article describes the planning process and identifies the use of InVEST as a key element in that process: "The module being used is the Marine InVEST which incorporates ecosystem services and valuation approaches into planning. It can inform a variety of policy, managed and conservation approaches ..."
On January 20, 2012, the Amandala newspaper in Belize published an article about our work to develop a coastal zone management plan that takes ecosystem services into account. Journalist Adele O. Trapp extensively interviewed team member Colin Gillett, director of the Coastal Zone Management Institute. Colin notes that the team has "run models of scenarios to explore what is best to do with certain lands within the coastal zone regime," among other advances.
Marine InVEST Training, October 2011
In late October 2011, the NatCap team co-led a stakeholder training at the Coastal Zone Management Authority and Institute (CZMAI) in late October. In total 24 people were trained, including representative from NGOs throughout Belize and various marine reserve managers for the national Fisheries Department. At the training, CZMAI demonstrated how they are applying InVEST models in Belize, showcasing Habitat Risk Assessment, Coastal Vulnerability, Tourism/Recreation, and a new Spiny Lobster model. Participants also had the opportunity to run InVEST on their own computers and provide local knowledge for the development of CZMAI's Integrated Coastal Zone Management Plan.
Training and Keynote in Belize, August 2011
In mid August 2011, the NatCap team worked with CZMAI to develop zones for the ICZMP and run InVEST models for Habitat Risk Assessment and Coastal Vulnerability. This was followed by a workshop in Placencia (southern Belize) for the MesoAmerican Reef (MAR) Leadership Program. The team introduced the marine models of InVEST and explored how to integrate environmental services into decision-making and conservation.
Planning Workshop with CZMAI held in Belize City, November 8-10, 2010
In 2010, a team from the Natural Capital Project met with colleagues at the CZMAI to identify goals, review methods, identify sources of data, and develop a timeline. The workshop was followed by meetings with partners at other agencies in Belize, and a visit to Goff's Caye which is managed by the CZMAI.
Coastal Zone Planning for Belize
An InVEST case study
Chantalle Clarke, Samir Rosado, Amy Rosenthal, Katie Arkema, Maritza Canto, Ian Gillett, Gregg Verutes, Spencer Wood