Ya'axché Conservation Trust

Bladen Nature Reserve

Considered the crown jewel of Belize's protected areas, Bladen Nature Reserve (BNR) is 100,000 acres (400 sq. km), of pristine natural forest in southern Belize. It is considered to be one of the most biodiversity-rich, and topographically unique areas within the Mesoamerican "biodiversity hotspot". Bladen has the highest protection status (Category I) under the standards of International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN).

Blue pool, Bladen Nature Reserve. | Photo: Gail Stott.

Bladen is the center piece of the Maya Mountain Corridor, creating a crucial link in the last remaining large, intact block of forest in the region. Additional parts of this corridor are protected by the Cockscomb Basin Wildlife Sanctuary, the Columbia River Forest Reserve, and the Chiquibul National Park and Forest Reserve – all bordering Bladen. The large number of ecosystems and species encompassed by the nature reserve add significantly to its value as a conservation area: harpy eagles, scarlet macaws and five cat species – including the jaguar – all thrive in this large territory of old growth forest. Few other areas of Mesoamerica provide enough forest to support this wide array of species.

Ya'axché strives to maintain a strong and open relationship with the communities surrounding Bladen

Bladen's role in watershed protection within the area is also important as it protects the upper waters of the Monkey River watershed, preserving the quality of the water draining into the Belize Barrier Reef, 26 km to the east. This water system additionally provides water for local communities and large agricultural areas on the coastal plain.
Spider monkey

Geoffroy's spider monkey, (Ateles geoffroyi) is found in Bladen Nature Reserve. The species is classified as Endangered by IUCN. | Photo: Erik Hammar.

As a vibrant and productive old growth jungle, Bladen provides many other environmental benefits to humans throughout the world. By cleaning air it protects global life support systems, and it serves as a carbon sink and a diverse genetic bank of a range of species. Additionally, the Mayan ruins and vast cave system within the reserve provide tremendous heritage and scenic value.

In December 2008, the Belize Forest Department selected Ya'axché as the co-manager of Bladen due to our demonstrated commitment to the area, experience in protected area management and institutional capacity to achieve success. As a community-oriented organization, Ya'axché strives to maintain a strong and open relationship with the communities surrounding Bladen and will continue to do so with the implementation of numerous projects.
Research in Bladen
Are you a researcher, student or want to host a student group in Bladen Nature Reserve? If so, please contact us by email and we'll provide further details of how we can assist in your research and academic experiences.