Belize is justifiably proud of its natural heritage. Although a small country by geography and population, Belize is home to the largest barrier reef in the western hemisphere – a centerpiece of a marine area rich in species and ecosystems, and a strong attraction for tourists from around the world. At the same time, Belize’s land based ecosystems support an unrivaled richness of scenery and wildlife and an exciting destination area for Belizeans and visitors. Belize’s archaeological treasures are generously sprinkled around the country, and include some world-class sites with international importance both for their beauty, but also the information they contain about our human past.
Recognizing the importance of its national heritage, Belize began establishing its protected areas system in the 1960s. The legislative base prior to the establishment of the Protected Areas Conservation Trust (PACT) included the Forest Act, the National Parks System Act, the Fisheries Act, the Ancient Monuments and Antiquities Ordinance, the National Lands Act, and the Land Utilization Act. This effort has been supported by an active Non-Government organizational network and by communities around the country. The generous designation of protected areas has now made Belize one of the most environmentally advanced countries in the world, with extensive areas of the national territory now designated as protected areas. These areas range from strict “no take” areas to multiple use areas with conservation objectives.
The Protected Areas Conservation Trust (PACT) is Belize’s National Trust. PACT provides funds for supporting conservation and promoting environmentally sound management of Belize's natural and cultural resources to foster sustainable development. PACT is a bold and innovative strategy for non-traditional revenue generation. PACT is primarily financed from the collection of a conservation fee of BZ $7.50 (US $3.75) paid in by visitors to Belize upon their departure and a 20% commission from cruise ship passenger fees. No less than 5% of all revenues are deposited into an endowment fund. PACT also welcomes donations by individuals and corporations.
PACT was established in 1995 as a statutory body after several years of consultation and meetings with various non-government organizations, government departments, private sector and international conservation organizations. Having been formally endorsed through the USAID's project in Belize on developing a National Protected Areas System Plan (NARMAP 1995), PACT opened its doors in June of 1996.
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