Illegal logging, poaching threaten Belize’s largest national park

If you look at Tony Rath’s aerial photos of Belize’s Chiquibul National Forest, you’d be forgiven for thinking that the images were taken over South America’s Amazon. Unbroken stands of lush trees fill the frames of his photos, punctuated only by a vertical thread of waterfall, a natural bridge of karst or twin sinkholes.

On the ground, though, the scene is completely different. From that vantage point, Rath’s photos are littered with the remains of felled old-growth mahogany trees, piles of garbage and the trunks and branches of other trees that have been pressed into service as roadblocks.

Rath, Belize’s most renowned photographer, is best known for land and seascapes, including underwater images. His work is the stuff of travel magazines, tourism brochures, and guidebooks; in fact, many articles and advertisements for the country have featured his photos, enticing would-be visitors with Belize’s archaeological and natural wonders.

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