There are few words in the English language that are more important than the word “trust,” a concept so critical to a working society that it prompted the Dalai Lama to make this statement in a Forbes magazine article: “To earn trust, money and power aren’t enough; you must show some concern for others. You can’t buy trust in the supermarket.” In Belize, the most critical trusts are those related to environmental fragility, which is why The Nature Conservancy’s online magazine recently paid tribute to one especially important effort: The Belize Maya Forest Trust.

About the Belize Maya Forest Trust

belize maya forest trust map

Long before Europeans arrived on the continent, the 37-million-acre Selva Maya, a tropical rainforest that sprawls across what is now Belize, Guatemala, and Mexico, was a verdant haven for wildlife and the continent’s original people, the earliest Maya societies. Over time, this green world remained pristine, acting as a haven for 400 bird species, 200 types of trees in addition to remaining a sanctuary for jaguars and other flora and fauna.

It’s easy for a lush land like this to become compromised, so activists banned it together with The Nature Conservancy, government entities, and other groups that were keen to keep this ecosystem from falling victim to urbanization. The Belize Maya Forest, in concert with the Rio Bravo Conservation and Management Area, were identified as being critical to the continent’s ecological health, so in 1989, the Trust was established to keep 236,000 acres of rainforest from being plundered. The goal? Making sure this 11-million-acre network would remain sacrosanct.

What was begun in 1989 continues today

belize maya forest trust

Once again, The Nature Conservancy stepped up to the plate to help generate both interest and $76.5 million in donations to continue work that was begun back in 1989. This time, the effort was dedicated to protecting 40% more land than the original arrangement, a focus that is aimed at amassing critical carbon reserves while striving to keep up with the area’s commitment to the universal cause set forth within the Paris Agreement. Further, within this valuable forest lies three watersheds responsible for safeguarding a third of Belize’s drinking water and 25% of the water needed to irrigate the crops that sustain the nation’s agricultural industry.

Here’s where Chan Chich Lodge entered the picture. The Lodge’s owner, Michael Bowen, and his family inherited successful businesses that run the gamut from a soft drink bottling company to cattle and timber, and while this popular lodge served as the family’s private getaway, he ultimately decided to develop a small section of it into a tourism destination devoted to promoting the unspoiled forest that hosts this property.

Not content to focus strictly on his bottom line, Bowen’s concern for the diminishing forests of Belize due to illegal operations led him to support the Belize Maya Forest Trust whole-heartedly as the rest of the puzzle pieces leading to the enhancement of the Trust fell into place. He actively recruited powerful people and philanthropic organizations to make meaningful contributions to keep this effort going.

A labor of love you must see for yourself


Given the fact that it’s set deep into the forestland, there is no better lodge for your next sojourn if you’d like to see for yourself how this monumental effort is going than by paying a visit to Chan Chich Lodge. You won’t have to sleep in a tent because the property’s cottages are beautifully appointed, and the primary all-inclusive package includes meals and tours of this area.

You can upgrade your arrangements to a more comprehensive package if your goal is to see more of Belize during your sojourn, but if your interest is witnessing this region’s most enchanting natural wonders, you may just decide to stay put and devote your time to appreciating the ongoing efforts of the Belize Maya Forest Trust. This collaboration of people, government, and organizations is making certain that your grandchildren will be able to see exactly what you’ll witness the moment you arrive at this blissful paradise.