Group Conservation & Community Project in Belize
- Who?Groups of at least 5
- When?Projects have flexible dates and run all year round
- Where?Marine parks near Placencia, Belize
By joining our Conservation & Community project, your group will get the unique chance to study, protect and preserve parts of the Belize Barrier Reef System, a UNESCO World Heritage Site described as ‘the most remarkable reef in the West Indies’ by Charles Darwin. In Belize, Projects Abroad holds a research permit from the government Fisheries Department. This permit allows us to work in three important marine parks in the Belize Barrier Reef Systems, located near Placencia in the south of the country.
The Belize reef system is the largest barrier reef in the northern hemisphere, also including several hundred sand cays, mangrove forests, offshore atolls, estuaries and coastal lagoons. It is home to wide diversity of plants and animals including coral species, fish and hundreds of invertebrate species, as well as a number of species of conservation concern including the West Indian manatee, whale sharks, green turtles, hawksbill turtles, loggerhead turtles and the American crocodile. Not only do reefs offer important supplies for thousands of people, like building material and food, it is also a source of employment through fisheries and tourism.
Although there are various protective methods in place, the reef has been affected by mass-bleaching incidents. Although the reason may be a combination of human activity and natural disaster, the chances of recovery are slim due to vulnerability to disease.
Your Group’s Role as Conservation Volunteers in Belize
As Conservation volunteers, your group will work directly with the government Fisheries Department and help gather necessary data of the Belize Barrier Reef through regular assessment. Data collection entry and analysis will focus on:
- The health status of the reef and seagrass beds
- The amount of commercial species, such as species of fish, lobster and conch, during and after the fishing season
- The location of turtles’ nests and the amount of turtle that are frequently spotted within all three protected areas
Your group will also play a big part in helping to manage the amount of local oceanic pollution affecting the reefs and surrounding seagrass beds by participating in beach clean-ups and salvage dives. Other work includes working alongside an NGO to conduct research on crocodiles.
You will spend your first few days participating in a PADI Open Water certification course. In shallow waters, you’ll all learn how to breathe underwater, clear your masks and equalise pressure. You will also become familiar with the buddy system and practise using underwater sign language to ensure the safety of yourself and the rest of the group. Once you all have your PADI certified diving certification, you’ll all start participating in conservation activities with our local staff and project partner. Volunteers are required to be medically and physically fit to participate in this project.
If any group members have an existing dive certification equivalent to the PADI Open Water qualification, they will have the chance to participate in the PADI Advanced course. Volunteers will also receive the Projects Abroad Survey Diver certification card. This is a PADI authorised specialty course which includes full training in underwater survey and research techniques.
The project also has a land-based community aspect, where you will do physical work to improve a local public area such as painting a classroom or refurbishing a playground.
Over the weekend, depending on weather, your group will travel with our staff to visit a nearby island or a Mayan ruin. This is a great opportunity to relax and have fun with everyone while exploring a new country and culture.
This placement is fully researched, safety audited and risk assessed in accordance with the British Standard BS8848 for the Adventure Travel Sector.