Over the last few years, southern coastal resources have become increasingly limited. The fishing industry is getting weaker, unregulated development is changing the entire landscape resulting in the steady decline and disappearance mangroves which serve as important nursery grounds for marine life. It is crucial for long-term sustainability that coastal communities understand these threats to the reef, to their way of life, and the necessary steps that need to be taken to mitigate these occurrences.
Friends of Nature serves six village communities that line the coast of southern Belize:
- Sittee River
- Seine Bight
- Monkey River
Each of these villages is distinct with its own particular culture and flavor yet there is a striking similarity in the environmental challenges that each face. FoN is trying to understand each one by examining its individual characteristics Ć what scientists call socio-economic monitoring or SocMon. We are looking at characteristics like the number of households that depend on fishing, the percentage of households that have turned to tourism, and their basic standards of living. Friends is also looking at how its villages are influenced by external forces such as regional fisheries prices, international aid programs, exploding populations, and other factors. We will continue this type of monitoring over time so that in the medium- to long-term, we will be able to better understand the underlying issues and how best to address them.
We may also be able to evaluate the effects of Friends of Nature's programs on the local communities. This is crucial as they are not only our constituencies but the reason for our existence.
Through its community education outreach program FoN has been carrying out projects in all the schools in the villages. Friends has given presentations on the biodiversity of the reef and coast, conducted summer school for children of the communities and carried out field trips to Laughing Bird Caye for both adults and students of FoNÍs villages. Staff is also facilitating environmental clubs in each of the schools by working with adults in each village to assist the teacher in carrying out club projects.
Friends of Nature has also provided training to fishermen in more sustainable livelihoods. Friends has trained local residents in SCUBA to Dive Master-level certification, fly-fishing, and whale-shark tour guiding.
Education/Outreach | Membership
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