Building resilient communities in Belize through climate-smart agricultural practices
Indigenous communities have always coexisted with nature. Their subsistence has had a dependence on the heightened stewardship of the natural environment, requiring that their farming practices evolve and adapt to today’s rapidly changing environment. As the effects of climate change become more obvious in weather pattern alterations influencing agricultural yields, so do the resilient farming practices that are being adapted to strengthen the agricultural sector. Since forests are sources of livelihoods for Mayan communities, agricultural advances promoting forest conservation and good governance are viewed as socially and environmentally responsive approaches to rural development. Cacao-based agroforestry is a long-term solution to improve our forests’ health and livelihoods in southern Belize. This system allows for the development of entrepreneurship opportunities through small-scale business models in agrotourism that highlight the cultural and biodiversity richness in these communities. The incorporation of apiculture and Inga alley cropping ensure that traditional crops such as corn, beans, and vegetables can be continuously cultivated, decreasing the deforestation rate, hence conserving our landscape and its ecosystem. These practices involve the growing of staples for the organized communities, who are embracing ecofriendly solutions for a sustainable future. The experience and knowledge developed within the communities have resulted in the development and application of climate-smart solutions and adaptation mechanisms that ensure livelihoods continue to thrive. These local initiatives establish an easy-to-replicate forest governance model, influencing regional and even national solutions to building climate-resilient forest communities in the Maya Golden Landscape.