This paper presents the outlook and trends for the forest sector of Belize and shows through two scenarios how the forest resource will be reduced considerably by 2020, should current actions be continued. This will have a drastic effect on sectors such as tourism that have the potential to be a main source of foreign exchange for the country, and on other sectors that depend largely on goods and services provided by the forests, including a freshwater supply and sources of energy.
However, another scenario shows that by 2020, 58.4 percent of forest cover in the country will be contributing to its social, environmental and economic development, if the actions of the forest sector are planned in accordance with a national land use plan as it relates to forested land, by updating Belize’s forest policy and the legislative framework of the sector, ensuring an adequate management, conservation and development of the forest resource. These actions are to be led by a modern and enabled Forest Department. This would allow consolidation of the National Protected Areas System and consideration of an industrial development of the forest sector based on raw material sources from reforestation programmes financed by the mitigation of greenhouse gases (GHGs), from the sustainable use of the remaining pine forests and from the adequate use of broadleaf forest suitable for this activity.
It is expected that by 2020 the forest industry of the country will process twice the amount of raw material it harvests today and that this will come from 75 percent pine forest and 25 percent broadleaf forest.
In order to make this positive scenario viable, a legal framework will be required for the new policies, to include recommendations whereby this new legal framework would be adapted to those policies, and there would also be a forest strategy for implementation.