Bladen Nature Reserve is the ‘crown jewel’ of Belize’s protected area system

Bladen Nature Reserve is the ‘crown jewel’ of Belize’s protected area system. Considered to be one of the most biodiversity-rich, and geographically unique areas within the Mesoamerican Biological Corridor, Bladen forms a significant portion of the Maya Mountains Massif.

Bladen’s large expanse of primarily forested uplands and valleys are essential for the survival of regionally iconic species such as the jaguar (Panthera onca), scarlet macaw (Ara macao), white-lipped peccary (Tayassu pecari) and harpy eagle (Harpia harpyja). Furthermore, Bladen provides a refuge for more than 57% of all mammal species known in Belize. Bladen plays a vital role in restocking animal populations in surrounding forests and downstream freshwater habitat. Communities can benefit from a healthy game species population.

Bladen’s forests have a mostly intact and undisturbed forest structure supporting 20 intact ecosystem types and high species diversity across a great range of elevations. With its diversity of altitude, geology, aspect and hydrology, Bladen Nature Reserve offers perhaps the most diverse range of conditions for plant life of any protected area in Belize. Assessment has found tree species diversity to be highest in Central America and experts estimate upwards of 4,000 plant species may be present. It is the largest tributary and most important headwaters of the Monkey River which in turn is one of the largest watersheds in southern Belize.

Bladen Nature Reserve is protected under the National Protected Areas Systems Act 2015 and designated a Nature Reserve which provides it with strict protection status banning all recreational activities, agriculture, hunting and logging. Nature Reserves, like the Bladen allow for educational and research activities under a permit.

Cymbopetalum mayanum - Dr Steven Brewer

Muc (Cymbopetalum mayanum), an endangered tree species, feeds about 40 different species of migratory birds en route to South America. | Flower photo: Dr Steven Brewer


Size of Protected Area
99,796 Acres

Globally Endangered Species
2 Plant, 2 Bird, 3 Mammal

Species found in Protected Area
337 Bird, 20 Fish, 93 Mammal, 92 reptiles and amphibians

Ecosystems found in Protected Area
20 Ecosystems

DON’Ts in Protected Area
Fishing, Hunting, Logging, Tourism

DOs in Protected Area
Environmental Education, Research and monitoring

Threats to Protected Area
Wildfire, Hunting, Agricultural expansion, Logging, Human Incursions