Bald Hills Under Threat
The Mountain Pine Ridge Forest Reserve (MPRFR) was first declared a protected area in 1944. By 1977, the reserve was comprised of 127,203 acres. The latest known gazette, SI 43 of 2012 puts the acreage of MPRFR at 106,457.60 acres. The Bald Hills, located on the eastern edge, is characterized by few pine trees, short grass/sedge dominated cover over undulating slopes. The Bald Hills occupies a ridge that defines the upper boundary of the headwaters for four river systems. The eastern and north-eastern portion of the Bald Hills drains into the Sibun River and Cave’s Branch, respectively. The northern side drains into Roaring River and the southern side is part of the Macal River Watershed, both river systems being tributaries of the Greater Belize River. Given that this area composes the upper boundary of four watersheds, it is an important contributor to rainwater discharge and potentially sediment transport to these river systems. For this reason, and given the threats of further de-reservation and land subdivision of the sensitive ecosystem on the Bald Hills, FCD has presented to the Government of Belize a concept for reclassifying the category of the Bald Hills to a Natural Monument.
The concept note presented to the CEO responsible for protected areas, Dr. Percival Cho, once approved would secure in posterity this nationally significant natural feature and provide opportunities for interpretation, research and public appreciation.