Turneffe Atoll, Belize

The Mesoamerican Reef is the largest coral reef system in the Western Hemisphere, providing essential ecosystem services including tropical storm protection and carbon storage, as well as food and income for coastal communities. At the heart of the reef is Turneffe Atoll, its largest and most bio-diverse coral atoll with extensive coral reefs, seagrass meadows and mangroves that provide critical habitat for endangered species such as turtles, saltwater crocodiles, and manatees.

In 2012 BLUE enabled the designation of Turneffe as a marine reserve after securing funding from the Bertarelli Foundation. Their comprehensive five year management plan continues to achieve major conservation gains.

All are agreed that Turneffe will need further funding to cover management costs long term. So with the agreement of other partners, BLUE initiated a process in 2015 to set up an endowment fund for Turneffe to address sustainable funding and land-side development issues.

BLUE believes that the key to Turneffe’s future may lie in the exceptional carbon dioxide absorbing properties of mangroves. Preservation of the area as a carbon ‘sink’ could unlock significant funding and ensure the future of this and other similar reserves around mangroves.