Host to one of the most biodiverse regions in the world, Belize provides the perfect getaway and hands on research for students studying evolutionary biology, botany, biodiversity, or even sustainable farming methods. The country has more than 150 species of animals, 540 species of birds, 151 species of amphibians and reptiles, and over 3,400 species of plants. One of Belize’s most popular destinations, for both vacation and field research is Chaa Creek, a tributary of the Macal River located in the western region of Belize. The area has plenty of options for university and/or high school students wanting to conduct research on anything from ethno botany to forest mycology. Here are some must dos and sees for anyone planning on partaking in a research project, educational trip, or exploration of Cha Creek’s natural reserves, resources, and research initiatives. As a former evolutionary biology major, I helped plan and coordinate a trip with some other students and a field director from my university. The trip was not only educational, but a truly unforgettable experience.
Do Your Background Research: BERDS
If you are planning on conducting field research in Belize, make sure to acquaint yourself with one of Belize’s most extensive databases, Biodiversity and Environmental Resource Data System of Belize. The site lists and describes ongoing and past projects based on region, district, and organization. It also has collective data and reports dealing with a variety of topics on plant species, water projects, bird mapping, and new animal sightings. Your class or group could build a research project on existing data or use the data to come up with new ideas!
Natural History Centre
If you are studying land formations or ecology, or you are interested in the change of landscape in Chaa Creek, the Natural History Centre is a must see. Learn about the diversity of landscapes and ecosystems in the region as well, and see how the Mayas left their print on Chaa creek and its surrounding areas. This may be a good site to see first, as it will help students understand the area history and geography before you venture out on studies of various species.
Rainforest Medicine Trail
Take a guided tour and learn about the various useful l herbs and plants as you and your classmates explore the Rainforest Medicine Trail in Chaa Creek. The exquisite range of medicinal plants, all present without human planting initiatives, showcases the unique landscape and eco diversity of the region.
Belize Botanic Gardens
The Belize Botanic Gardens are located outside Chaa Creek in the city of San Ignacio. If you are studying plants and plant diversity, the center is a must see for you and your colleagues! Various horticulture institutions use this area and organization as a resource and functioning data center. Also check out if the institution needs any volunteers the week you are going. It could be fun to volunteer for a project or two while you are visiting the gardens!
Start planning your trip today! Bon Voyage.
Mariana Ashley is a freelance writer who particularly enjoys writing about online schools. She loves receiving reader feedback, which can be directed to mariana.ashley031 @gmail.com.