Caye Caulker Forest Reserve

mangrove_seedling_tubedCaye Caulker Forest Reserve comprises approximately 95 Acres on the northernmost point of Caye Caulker principally of basin and fringing mangrove habitat with small patches of of littoral forest and saltmarsh.  All of these habitats—particularly littoral thickets and forest – are embedded in relict cocal (old abandoned  Coconut farm).  Most littoral vegetation was removed about 75-80 ybp and replaced by producing coconut (Cocos nucifera) trees.

In contrast, many Red Mangroves (Rhizophora mangle) were killed during Hurricane Keith (Cat. 4, 30 Sep-2 Oct 2000) and in certain areas have been slow to recover.

Cocoplum_-_Chrysobalanus_icacoIn the late 1980s an increase in development heralded an upsurge in destruction of littoral forest on Caye Caulker—a place named for a well-known littoral plant—Cocoplum (Chrysobalanus icaco), or in Spanish, Cayo Hicaco.  Similarly, Ornithologist Bruce Miller conducted a bird study using mist-net at Caye Caulker, showing approximately four times the bird numbers in dense southern CC littoral forest as opposed to the northern forest—site of CCFR. This coincided with increase in coral reef degradation, prompting a small group of Caye Caulker people to form a group—the Siwa-ban Foundation—dedicated to formation of a multihabitat reserve at Caye Caulker.

Siwa-ban is the Caye Caulker name for the Black Catbird. Many long years of lobbying ensued, with final declaration for both Reserves in April 1998.  Actual work on the site commenced in 2001, with the construction of the Coastal Zone Authority/Institute large grant portion to construct the Headquarters Base.

Class group at Headquarters ready to go for planting activities. October 2010

Class group at Headquarters ready to go for planting activities. October 2010

Subsequently, FAMRACC has brought the Reserve to proper operation with a series of grants from PACT Foundation and PACT Trust, placing a Ranger on-site, establishing Experimental Forests, and bringing a record 12 school trips from Caye Caulker and international visitors into CCFR to plant and water plants, paint signs, pick up sea-borne rubbish and  work trail maintenance, depending upon the time of year.

 

FAMRACC is working toward the day that CCFR can receive the status upgrade of Caye Caulker Wildlife Sanctuary (CCWS)—a more appropriate category of conservation reflecting the rare habitat type and rare and limited-area species residing in the Reserve.