A wide variety of tree species covers the globe—and an estimated 10,000 of these are in danger of extinction due to over-harvesting, habitat loss, and the effects of climate change.
Though many types of trees provide cultural, economic, and ecological value, too few threatened species are subject to targeted conservation action. In response, we are developing new partnerships to increase awareness of and capacity to effectively protect trees. This includes work with talented botanists like Dr. Steven Brewer, key botanical institutions and universities to lift the profile of trees, build botanic capacity, secure much-needed support, and catalyze action for better protection on the ground.
Lack of botanical information – especially species identity – is a threat to preventing extinction of tree species.
Trees of Belize Project
Belize’s tropical forests thrive in the heart of the Selva Maya, the largest remaining rainforest block in Mesoamerica. Despite having close to 60% of its land under forest cover and the lowest population density in Central America, Belize is growing and modernizing quickly. Threats to forests and to trees targeted for extraction are intensifying as a result. A key constraint to effectively addressing threats is a lack of botanical information and capacity, which impedes management and protection.
Belize has over 1,100 tree species yet lacks a comprehensive field guide. The Trees of Belize Project is a multi-year effort dedicated to growing and cultivating in-country expertise and interest in botany. Directed by Dr. Steven Brewer in collaboration with the Environmental Research Institute at the University of Belize, the project design reflects many years of collaborative botanic work and a shared belief that trees remain enigmatic because of the lack of accessible information, identification tools, and training for such a diverse flora.
To remedy this, the project will focus on building skills to identify, locate, and assess Belize’s tree species. This will involve collaboration with many different organizations and individuals, and ultimately result in the creation of a comprehensive field guide, The Trees of Belize.
View images of the trees of Belize by Dr. Steven Brewer: