Discover Bladen Nature Reserve in Southern Belize
Bladen Nature Reserve is considered to be the crown jewel of all of Belize’s nature reserves and protected areas. It’s extraordinarily rich in biodiversity, with a gorgeous and mysterious landscape of streams and rivers, old-growth rainforest, sinkholes, and caves. Find out more about Bladen Nature Reserve below.
The Bladen Reserve is part of the Maya Mountains, which lies within the Mesoamerican Biological Corridor. The uplands and valleys that makeup Bladen are essential locations for various iconic animal species like the jaguar, harpy eagle, and scarlet macaw among others.
The forests in Bladen are fairly well-protected against hurricanes, which makes much of the old-growth rainforest undisturbed. The reserve includes 20 different ecosystem types and an incredible amount of animal and plant species diversity. Biologists believe there could be over 4,000 plant species within the Bladen Reserve. Another aspect that contributes to Bladen’s high species diversity is the different altitudes. Bladen includes a wide range of elevations from valleys to mountains.
The Bladen Reserve includes a protected area that covers 99,796 acres. Within its area, there are two plant species, two bird species and three mammal species that are considered globally endangered. There are about 337 bird species in the protected area of Bladen as well as 20 fish species, 93 mammal species, and 92 herptile species. Threats to the protected area include wildfire, agricultural expansion, hunting, logging, and xate extraction. The protected area does not legally allow fishing, hunting, logging or tourism. The area is to be used for environmental education, monitoring and research only.
The cultural heritage of the Bladen Nature Reserve is also quite rich. For a while, researchers thought that the Maya would not have been all that interested in Bladen’s rugged terrain. However, it was eventually discovered that the Maya did indeed settle in the Bladen area. The Maya were primarily interested in mineral resources in the area. Several sites of ancient Maya settlements have been discovered in the Bladen Nature Reserve.
The Bladen Nature Reserve is unfortunately threatened by outside influences such as hunting and extraction. Some of the worst offenders are xate palm collectors. They have caused widespread impacts through illegally extracting from xate palms and hunting game. Another issue is the illegal looting of Maya archeological sites within the reserve.
Nevertheless, the Belize government remains committed to protecting these beautiful and wild areas ofBelize to keep ecosystems and endangered species thriving.