Focus: Environment

Silk Caye final

Gulf of Honduras Creative Conservation Project

Strong local leadership and social cohesion are critical success factors for conservation outcomes.

We've embarked on a multi-year initiative to accelerate critical conservation efforts in the Gulf of Honduras. These marine and coastal ecosystems of Belize and Guatemala support some of the greatest biodiversity on Earth and provide livelihoods for thousands. Vast areas of coral reefs and mangroves have been lost and face continued threats from oil drilling, commercial fishing, tourism and climate change.

The Creative Conservation program supports the management and protection of sixteen ecosystems across Belize and Guatemala by expanding the leadership and engagement capacity of a cohort of six leading conservation organizations. In 2015, we entered Phase II of the program - deepening creative strategies and providing support through coaching, facilitation, skill building clinics, and field artist reinforcement for community projects.

This project has culminated in a Creative Conservation open source curriculum to enable conservation organizations to replicate the work.

Creative Conservation Curriculum

Projects & Partnerships

Raising awareness

TIDE Fisher Forum

TIDE works in the heart of the Maya Mountain Marine Corridor with the primary goal of establishing sustainable resource management of the Port Honduras Marine Reserve and local forests. CAI helped to successfully launch multiple community conservation initiatives, including Hicatee and Yellow-Headed Parrot awareness, fire management, no-take zone education, the Greening TIDE Challenge, a national fisher forum and training teachers in a creative environmental education curriculum.

“Getting fishers to work together has always been one of the toughest challenges...After seeing how useful data could be, and how it depended upon accurate catch reporting, most agreed to increase their commitment to record catches accurately and honestly. The participatory techniques we learned kept fishers engaged in the experience.” - James Foley, TIDE Science Director

Building collaboration

Group working on clay masks2

After completing the CAI Certificate Course, Ya’axche Conservation Trust sought to build trust and engagement with the local community. Seven Ya’axche staff and sixteen Mayan women convened to break down misconceptions and reflect upon ways to improve gender inequality through Social Identity Mandalas, Real to Ideal Image Theater, and the Collective Tree of Strength. Ya’axche went on to involve 100 local indigenous community members in arts-based public projects - such as 30 Mayan women of the Belize village of Indian Creek molding their self-portraits in clay as an exploration of traditional roles. These masks became a public art installation about gender and Mayan culture at the University of Belize.

“It was the first training I have ever attended and I learned a lot about lifting up my village and being more patient and respectful.” - Gladis Coc, Mayan Community Leader

The living system


Eighteen conservation leaders emerged equipped with concrete tools to leverage lasting systemic change after taking part in our creative systems course. Participants engaged in dialogue around fishing practices, developed compelling message campaigns about fire management, littering, and manatee protection and strengthened their regional networks. The goal: looking to the natural world as a model for more just and sustainable human systems in their communities and organizations.

"I am now better equipped with tools to bring about behavior change and positive impacts on the management of natural resources in Belize.” - Marion Muschamp, TIDE Protected Areas Manager