Recognizing the importance of protected areas in global conservation efforts, in the preservation of the world’s native biodiversity and of their function in achieving ecological sustainable development, Belize signaled its intention to seriously engage in conserving and protecting its natural habitats through the creation of many protected areas, both terrestrial and marine. Historically, protection efforts not only in Belize but around the world have occurred at the level of individual protected areas rather than comprehensively as global landscapes necessary to offset the increasing demands and threats posed by human land uses and activities. Scientists, experts and communities have more recently recognized that conservation efforts must occur in a holistic manner that recognizes the interconnectivity of the different protected areas in maintaining a viable biological diversity. In 2006, Belize adopted a National Protected Areas Systems Plan and Policy to manage its protected areas as a system under one coherent framework rather than individually and separately.
This course explores the history, science, issues, and practice of the protected areas approach to conservation with a focus on Belizean examples. The philosophical underpinnings as well as the social, political and economic dimensions will also be studied to provide a holistic assessment of the complex issues surrounding protected areas and their role in biodiversity conservation.
Students enrolled in this summer program will be afforded the opportunity to work with experts in two protected areas in Belize, one terrestrial and one marine, to study the ecology of the systems and the strategies that are being employed in managing them.
Students will enroll in ESCI 320 (Practicum) for 6 credits. During the first week, students will engage at Galen University with practicing professionals in Belize to first learn via presentations and discussion sessions about the historical, legal/political and practical experiences of Belize in managing its protected areas. Students will then spend 5-7 days each at a terrestrial and a marine protected area in Belize working with the personnel to engage in hands-on activities, including monitoring and ecological studies.
Fieldwork will be supplemented with daily discussions at the field station on the activities undertaken. Students will choose miniprojects to carry out during their fieldwork. The final 2-3 days will be used for student reports on their mini-projects and course wrap-up. This course carries a value of six credit hours.
International students are housed in a family run resort, the Log Cab-Inn. The accommodations are based on double occupancy, single is available at an extra cost. Students are responsible for making housing payment directly to Log Cab-Inn.
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