Project Overview

Globally, the savanna ecosystem is an important sink for atmospheric carbon. Savannas are estimated to cover between 10-30% of the earth's surface and represent a highly productive ecosystem and contain low-density woodlands that may represent a key carbon sink. Savannas are maintainedby a delicate balance of factors including the seasonality of rainfall, fire, herbivory and human pressures. As all of these factors are influenced by climate change there is a pressing need to monitor these ecosystems. However, at present there is far less baseline data or mapping available for savanna areas compared to tropical forest areas, against which to assess changes to their extent, composition and biomass that are likely to occur as climate changes .

The lowland savannas of Belize occupy almost 10% of the land area. Efforts to characterise the extent and internal composition of savannas nationally have so far been limited, with existing mapping lacking sufficient detail to provide a baseline for monitoring the ecosystem. A further problem is the lack of a comprehensive checklist of savanna species with many savanna areas, particularly in the south, remaining unexplored botanically. Currently, there is little basis for making informed conservation or management decisions about this biome and no basis for forming a national savanna conservation strategy.

Ecosystems and protected areas

Ecosystems from Belize Ecosystem Map (2004)

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