Lowland savannas occupy almost 10% of Belize and provide the main habitat for the commercially important timber species Caribean Pine (Pinus caribaea) and the endangered Yellow-headed Amazon parrot (Amazona oratrix). Threatened by a combination of human pressures and by climate change, this ecosystem remains under-valued and under-represented within Belize's extensive protected area system.
Until now, there has been no comprehensive checklist of savanna plant species for Belize with many areas, particularly in the south, remaining unexplored botanically. There has thus been little basis for making informed conservation or management decisions about this biome or to create a national savanna conservation strategy.
This Darwin project aims to address this by creating resources and building up the local capacity for undertaking botanical inventory and plant biodiversity assessments in the lowland savanna ecosystem of Belize.
This page provides access to a searchable database of over 5,000 specimen records from the lowland savanna ecosystem of Belize and 1,500 species names.
The data records are a combination of previously published data brought together from a variety of existing data sources and new data collected specifically for this project by staff from Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh and the Environmental Research Institute of the University of Belize (map).
Information about pre-existing collections has been mined from online herbaria catalogues (specifically MO and E), obtained directly from herbarium specimens (BM and BRH) and sourced from published literature.
Based upon this information, a first nationwide checklist of savanna plants is currently being prepared for publication.
Photoguides of live plant specimens are also being developed to aid Belizeans to identify the flora of the lowland savanna. These resources will be available via project's main website (http://www.eeo.ed.ac.uk/sea-belize/index.html).
These resources should assist Belizeans in developing informed conservation strategies and in sustainably managing their savanna habitat. The data can be used, for example, to explore species level distributions, species rarity, the effects of fire regeneration upon savanna plants and how differing pine exploitation regimes may influence both the distribution of individual species and general savanna structure.
The project partners in this project have been University of Edinburgh, Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh, Environmental Research Institute at the University of Belize, Belize Tropical Forest Studies, Belize Botanic Gardens, Programme for Belize and Belize Forest Department.
Many people have contributed to the gathering of data, images and specimens provided on this website. Others have contributed a range of skills and knowledge from taxonomic to administrative. The help of the following people is gratefully acknowledged:
Adams, B.; Aguilar, R.; Bardalez, J.; Barrientos, E.; Brewer, S.W.; Bridgewater, S.G.M.; Cameron, I.D.; Canto, J.; duPlooy, J.; duPlooy, H.; Eden, K.; Filer, D.; Furley, P.A.; Goodwin, J.C.L.; Harris, D.J.; Haston, E.H.; Hoy, H.; Hunnex, J.; Kay, E.; Lloyd, A.J.; Lloyd, K.A.; Lopez, G.N.; Lopez, R.; MacKinnon, L.; Mahung, C.; Mai, H.; Marlin, J.; Martinez, A.; Martinez-Kay, G.; Martinez-Kay, I.; McCormick, S.; Meerman, J.; Michelakis, D.G.; Moss, D.; Muschamp, M.; Oldroyd, L.; Ratter, J.A.; Requena, E.; Robson, N.K.; Romero, E.; Solomon, J.; Stuart, N.; Trevaskis, A.; Tut, F.S.; Whitefoord, C.