Caribbean reefs provide critical habitat to a diverse array of marine animals. The second largest barrier reef in the world, which lies off the coast of Belize, has received considerable conservation focus over the past 20 years. However, the international conservation community has largely neglected important “satellite” reefs off of Guatemala’s Caribbean coastline. These Guatemalan reefs are widely valued within Guatemala, but they have not received official protection due to lack of funding for legal fees associated with the preparation of proposals to initiate protected status of these unique marine ecosystems. This project will complete the official protected designation of reefs within Guatemala’s La Graciosa Bay.
The Guatemalan reefs are critical habitat for thousands of marine species. Importantly, during the breeding and nesting seasons, they are habitat for the highly endangered sea turtles: Leatherback Sea Turtle (Dermochelys coriacea) (CR), Hawksbill Sea Turtle (Eretmochelys imbricata) (CR), Loggerhead Sea Turtle (Caretta caretta), and Green Sea Turtle (Chelonia mydas).
FUNDAECO was founded in 1990 and has successfully promoted protected areas and sustainable community development in Guatemala. During this period, FUNDAECO has successfully lobbied the National Congress for the legal declaration of two new protected areas in the country, and has presented two new laws, for the creation of two additional National Protected Areas. FUNDAECO has also supported the establishment of Municipal Parks (4), Community Nature Reserves (11) and Private Reserves (11). FUNDAECO has also supported community land titling, forest protection subsidies for communities and sustainable agroforestry.
GWC and FUNDAECO will work together to complete a proposal to Guatemalan Congress for official marine reserve status of the reefs within Graciosa Bay.
The Graciosa Bay reefs will be an internationally recognized marine reserve where human activities are limited to carefully managed ecotourism.
© 2012 Global Wildlife Conservation