Protecting Tapir Mountain Nature Reserve through Research, Outreach, and Financial Support

Belize Karst Habitat on Tapir Mountain

The Belize Karst Habitat Conservation project, founded by Aaron Juan in 2016 and officially registered as a Non-Governmental Organization in 2019, assumes the vital role of preserving and protecting the invaluable natural and cultural resources nestled within the pristine Tapir Mountain Nature Reserve (TMNR). With a comprehensive approach encompassing research, monitoring, outreach, infrastructure, and administration, this initiative strives to safeguard the unique ecosystem found in Belize.

From Tour Guides to Conservationists: The Birth of KARST

The genesis of the organization can be traced back to a group of tour guides who worked for over 18 years at the Aktun Tunichil Muknal cave within the Tapir Mountain Nature Reserve. Witnessing the unauthorized deforestation and illegal hunting that threatened the reserve’s vitality, these guides joined forces with the Belizean government in 2019. Together, they aimed to co-manage the park and combat these detrimental activities. Although their plan was initially successful, the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic compelled them to temporarily suspend their endeavors for a period of two years.

Building a Sustainable Future: Overcoming Challenges

To implement their conservation plan effectively, KARST needed a physical presence in the area and adequate funding for essential infrastructure and programs. Constructing access points to the park, establishing a research facility, developing a ranger station for patrols, procuring vehicles, and creating community-oriented initiatives required substantial financial resources. Through generous contributions from various organizations, including the Caye International Bank Limited, these goals became attainable.

A Generous Boost: The Impact of Donations

In a significant milestone for KARST, the organization received a substantial donation of BZ $500,000 from the Caye International Bank in 2023. Ambassador Joel Nagel and Michael Cobb facilitated this crucial financial support, propelling the efforts to safeguard the Tapir Mountain Nature Reserve (TMNR). Expressing his dedication to environmental stewardship, Joel Nagel emphasized the importance of protecting Belize’s remarkable biodiversity for future generations (The San Pedro Sun, 2023). In addition to supporting KARST, Attorney Joel Nagel has been involved in various wildlife preservation projects, demonstrating his commitment to conservation on multiple fronts.