What to Know About Belize’s 5 Different Ecosystems
While Belize is a relatively small country, visitors and locals have easy access to five very different ecosystems. Learn about these distinct ecosystems of Belize below.
Tropical Rain Forest
A lot of Belize remains unexplored. While more than half of the country is considered subtropical rainforest or a jungle, 75% of that amount is safeguarded by the government. It is due to the prevalence and condition of this wilderness that Belize is a strong market for ecotourism; ecotourism just happens to be the country’s second-most-valued revenue stream. The Belize rainforest is the where you can find many unique types of wildlife, including jaguars, ocelots and pumas. Tapirs, which happen to also be the national animal; crocodiles, howler monkeys and even armadillos can also be encountered in this ecosystem. The jungle is home to hundreds of ancient Maya settlements, many of which have yet to be discovered.
The Belize Barrier Reef is host to just as a diverse and balanced array of flora and fauna as the rainforests, just within an entirely different terrain. Furthermore, it is believed that only one-tenth of all the possible species within this biome have been identified; over 500 species of fish, 36 species of soft coral, 70 species of hard coral and hundreds of invertebrate lifeforms. The area is also acknowledged as a World Heritage site, consisting of 300 kilometers of coral growth. The reef happens to be the premium tourist spot in Belize, especially for those with a passion for scubaing and snorkeling.
Savannas account for roughly a tenth of Belize’s entire land, bestowing several distinctive landscapes. Found mostly within the country’s northern section, tropical savannas are dominant in grasses, trees and small plants. Belize’s savanna ecosystem is also called a pine ridge, due to the presence of pine trees as the most developed trees in the area. The coarse soil of this terrain comes from hard quartz, as well as gravel. While you might not notice any wildlife at first glance, careful observers can find the Belizean gray fox foraging for small creatures like marmots and insects. Nights in Belize’s savannas are marked by the activity of armadillos and pumas.
Belize has 27 major rivers, encompassing four separate watersheds. These rivers transport clean rainwater, plant material and energy from the rainforests, through the mangroves and ultimately into the sea. The rivers are where Belize’s hundreds of waterfalls come from. More than a few rivers pass through caves, giving visitors a chance to ride an inner tube through these caverns. Other riverside activities include kayaking, fishing and rafting.
Mangroves trees that grow from salt water but also clean the water, mitigate erosion and serve as a safe haven for multiple species. Because of their ability to dissipate the immense wave energy generated during hurricanes, one-third of Belize’s coastline is lined with mangroves. This means means Belize’s coasts are both gorgeous and valuable to keeping the country safe during harsh weather.