Understanding the trans-boundary deforestation history and patterns in protected areas along the Belize-Guatemala border is of regional and global importance. To assess deforestation history and patterns in our study area along a section of the Belize-Guatemala border, we incorporated multi-temporal deforestation rate analysis and spatial metrics with survey results. This multi-faceted approach provides spatial analysis with relevant insights from local stakeholders to better understand historic deforestation dynamics, spatial characteristics and human perspectives regarding the underlying causes thereof. During the study period 1991–2014, forest cover declined in Belize's protected areas: Vaca Forest Reserve 97.88%–87.62%, Chiquibul National Park 99.36%–92.12%, Caracol Archeological Reserve 99.47%–78.10% and Colombia River Forest Reserve 89.22%–78.38% respectively. A comparison of deforestation rates and spatial metrics indices indicated that between time periods 1991–1995 and 2012–2014 deforestation and fragmentation increased in protected areas. The major underlying causes, drivers, impacts, and barriers to bi-national collaboration and solutions of deforestation along the Belize-Guatemala border were identified by community leaders and stakeholders. The Mann-Whitney U test identified significant differences between leaders and stakeholders regarding the ranking of challenges faced by management organizations in the Maya Mountain Massif, except for the lack of assessment and quantification of deforestation (LD, SH: 18.67, 23.25, U = 148, p > 0.05). The survey results indicated that failure to integrate buffer communities, coordinate among managing organizations and establish strong bi-national collaboration has resulted in continued ecological and environmental degradation. The information provided by this research should aid managing organizations in their continued aim to implement effective deforestation mitigation strategies.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Environmental Engineering
- Waste Management and Disposal
- Management, Monitoring, Policy and Law