Geographically, Belize is one of the most important countries for wintering and migrating birds that breed in the United States and Canada. Of the 360 species that migrate beyond U.S. borders annually, 229 can be found in Belize. This incredible jewel in Central America offers valuable stopover and wintering habitats for Audubon's priority neotropical migrant birds and other important species in need of protection.
Belize’s geographic location, coupled with its relatively intact forest, wetland, and marine ecosystems, make it one of the most important countries along the flyways for migratory birds that breed in the U.S. and Canada. Belize is also home to several Audubon priority species. (Priority species are particularly threatened in terms of their long-term survival and are selected through careful scientific research and analysis.) These include the Wood Thrush, Cerulean Warbler, Prothonotary Warbler, and other species that travel the Atlantic Flyway, as well as the Golden-Cheeked Warbler and other species that traverse the Mississippi Flyway.
The health and richness of Belize’s ecosystems provide a good foundation for significant conservation successes that can support winter survival and important migration stopovers for many of Audubon's priority bird species, along with several globally threatened species of fauna and flora, including Morelet’s treefrog, the Goliath grouper, and the Central American spider monkey. These rich ecosystems support a large portion of the country’s economic base, particularly environmental and other tourism, which represents more than 30 percent of Belize’s total gross domestic product (World Travel and Tourism Council 2011).
The IAP team, in conjunction with the Belize Audubon Society (BAS), is working to bolster local conservation efforts, protect contiguous forests benefiting Audubon's priority forest birds, support national-level science agendas focused on birds, and secure crucial habitats that link Belize’s protected areas system and provide essential corridors for safe migration.
Audubon’s IAP team has three primary goals in Belize: 1) integrating bird conservation and protection into Belize’s national conservation agenda and into on-the-ground conservation actions in order to positively affect Belize’s key species; 2) consolidating the country’s bird conservation and government development agendas and building a solid constituency that values the environment enough to take action; and 3) boosting the sustainability of bird conservation through improved stable funding and helping BAS and its networks carry out this work over the long term.