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Win–win in Belize: incubating community businesses that protect forests

Belize is a small country with high forest cover, accounting for 61% of the land. But the nation’s biodiverse forest landscapes are under threat from company land concessions, agricultural expansion and dry season fires. One approach to reducing this threat involves aligning local livelihood needs (of both men and women) with protected area management, resulting in the founding and growth of sustainable community forest businesses. A project funded by the Darwin Initiative and led by the University of Edinburgh attempted just that. With support from IIED, it developed a model for community forest business incubation that incentivised community fire management in Belize’s biodiversity-rich lowland pine savannahs. The approach successfully established viable businesses; it also opened a national dialogue on the role community forest business could play in restoring and managing forest landscapes, both within and outside protected areas. We recommend revision of the Forest Act of 1927 to further enable this approach.

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