The Coastal Zone Management (CZM) Institute’s Coastal Planning Programme officially came about during the agency’s 1990’s project life. Today, the programme now boasts two coastal planners who are supported by the diverse array of agency technical staff, whilst being guided by the Director of the Institute. The scope of work and activities are driven by the programme’s objectives and current coastal developmental issues in Belize.
Why is Coastal Planning Necessary in Belize?
Planning in Belize’s coastal zone was once considered a low priority. This was probably due to the inaccessibility, unfriendly physical conditions, low market values and resident population of most coastal areas in the past. Consequently, ad hoc and uncoordinated development management was the status quo.
Today however, over 35% of the nation’s population resides in more than 23 coastal communities. In addition, tourism has grown tremendously over the past years. For example, traditional tourist arrivals have increased by 139% between 1998 and 2001; furthermore, over 84% of tourists are accommodated in coastal communities. These trends have resulted in increased economic, recreation, development, and resource management activities throughout the coastal zone of Belize.
This scenario has demonstrated an urgent need for sound planning and management of Belize’s coastal resources. Moreover, this need is considered even more important when the potential deleterious impacts of sea level rise and catastrophic storms, which have devastated lives and economies, are added to Belize’s present scenario.
A model demonstration of using the InVest tool. It is the Habitat Risk Assessment model.