Ya’axché’s BioBlitz: a flagship event interconnecting the MGL communities and biodiversity conservation.

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The MGL youths engaged in biodiversity education by identifying 220 species while learning about Ya’axché’s Science and Protected Areas Management Programs.

BioBlitz is a global event where scientists and community members come together to identify as much species as possible in a location within twenty-four hours. On June 24th and 25th of 2022, sixty-eight (68) youths from the MGL communities had fun by observing and identifying living things in two protected area: Golden Stream Corridor Preserve and Bladen Nature Reserve. Ya’axché’s BioBlitz provides biodiversity education to the MGL communities, a critical component of conservation stewardship initiatives by instilling an appreciation for nature and help spread awareness of the importance of sustainable actions.  

Youths ages 12-25, conducted research and monitoring surveys alongside Ya’axché’s research and monitoring team and bird experts, Matthew Sacul and author of Birds of Belize, H. Lee Jones. Ya’axché’s BioBlitz provided valuable hands-on learning to identify bees, birds, mammals, macro-invertebrates, and tree species.

Participants heightened their sense of environmental stewardship by exploring the protected areas nature trails, swimming in fresh watersheds, and closely observing birds, macroinvertebrates and bees through binoculars and microscopes. Campers, also had the opportunity to experience a nocturnal environment searching for owls, frogs, bats and other wildlife sightings while sharing a marshmallow bonfire with their fellow environmental club members.

Participants identified 107 birds, 19 bees, 14 mammals, 67 trees and 13 freshwater macroinvertebrates, recording a total of 1069 observations and 220 species in twenty-four hours. Youths sighted spider monkeys, howler monkeys, and a striped hog-nosed skunk.  The jaguar, tapir and red brocket deer tracks were also observed during the BioBlitz surveys. The highlight of the event was the identification of a new species of Carpenter bee for the MGL. 

With outstanding team effort and the use of technology such as smartphone apps, participants and local scientists were able to collect biodiversity data. The data will support the sound decision-making for the continuous protection of 151,000 acres of forests and its biodiversity. Ya’axché recognizes the key role of community members and has established BioBlitz as an annual event to spread awareness of the importance of biodiversity across forested landscapes.

Ya’axché’s BioBlitz 2022 was supported by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) and The Inter-American Foundation (IAF).

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