In 1996, Belize was considered a pioneer with the passing of the PACT Act. Today, the protected areas landscape continues to take shape and expand. Currently there are 103 protected areas that form a vast national protected areas system (NPAS), with categories that encompass forest reserves, nature reserves, national parks, marine reserves, private reserves, wildlife sanctuaries, natural monuments, bird sanctuaries, spawning aggregation reserves and archaeological reserves.
In the twenty years since the Protected Areas Conservation Trust was established, PACT has been accredited national implementing entity (NIE) status for the Adaptation Fund as well as granted a fiduciary role for such agencies as the World Bank, the Meso-American Reef Fund (MAR Fund), the Global Environment Facility (GEF) and the Belize Nature Conservation Fund (BNCF). In October 2015, the amended PACT legislation was passed and like the PACT Act before it, it represents a bold step in the direction of actualizing and accommodating the needs of the country’s protected areas system.
The Protected Areas Conservation Trust (PACT) is Belize’s national conservation trust. Revenues for the Trust are primarily derived from a Conservation Fee of US$ 3.75 paid by overnight visitors, a fifteen per cent commission from cruise ship passenger head tax, fiduciary services, and interest earned on its Term Deposits. PACT redistributes the revenue throughout the National Protected Areas System (NPAS) by providing funding for projects that support conservation and promote environmentally sound management of Belize’s natural and cultural resources.
Did you know that 50% of PACT’s revenue is derived from the PACT Conservation Fee paid by visitors when they depart from Belize? PACT also earns revenue from the Cruise Ship Passenger Head Tax paid by visitors to Belize upon their arrival. To date, PACT has invested over BZ$ 31 million dollars in protected areas management in Belize through the awarding of grants. Additional sources of revenues for the Trust include 20% on concession arrangements within the protected areas, 20% of all recreation-related licence fees and permit fees collected in conjunction with protected areas and donations. PACT is committed to contributing to the sustainable management and development of Belize’s natural and cultural assets for the benefit of Belizeans and the global community.
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 are 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.