Top 10 Natural Resources in Belize and Their Uses

Belize is a relatively small and sovereign nation in Central America with a population of about 300, 000 people.

The country is located on the Yucatan Peninsula, which borders Mexico on the Northwestern side and Guatemala on the Western and Southern border.

The total area of Belize is 22,960 square miles and the land area is 22,800 square miles.  On the eastern side is the Caribbean Sea with a coastline that is 240 miles long.

The northern region of Belize mainly is made up of flat plains which are covered in indigenous forests, Belize has hardly any elevation at all.

Most of the interior terrain is dense tropical forest, with quite a diversity of vegetation. The terrain in the coastal region of Belize is mostly a swampy plain. Away from the coast, thousands of islands exist which serve as major tourist centers for the country.

In the southern area of the country, the Maya Mountains boast the 3,000-foot-high ‘Victoria Peak’.  The mountains are quite chilly. The climate of Belize climate is tropical.

It is very hot and humid. The average temperature is 790F, which varies a little all through the year.  The country was first inhabited by the Maya Indians who had an incredibly advanced civilization.

Belize is endowed with enormous natural resources ranging from natural forests, arable land, beautiful beaches, fish, limestone, sand, clay, and gravel, to Baogasse.

Natural Resources in Belize

  • Natural Forests
  • Arable Land
  • Aquatic Life
  • Beautiful Beaches and Barrier Reef
  • Limestone
  • Sand and Gravel
  • Gold
  • Tin
  • Crude Oil
  • Barite

1. Natural Forests

One of Belize’s natural resources is its indigenous forests. In the northern part of Belize is located vast indigenous forests provide a natural habitat for a wide variety of animals such as birds, reptiles, mammals, and insects.

Belize has a big forestry industry that fully relies on natural resources due to the vast forest resources. Since the creation of the forestry industry, Belize forests have been a major source of income for the government.

The forests have highly sought trees such as mahogany, pines, oaks, cedars, rosewood, and sapodilla trees.

The trees in the rain forests are cut down and supplied to the timber industry where they are used in making furniture, in the construction sector, and in making electric poles.

In recent years, Belize has suffered from overlogging in its forests. As a result, the government formed an agency to protect the forests from illegal loggers.

The Belize Forest Department protects most of the natural forests in the country.

Belize has extensive forest and associated woodland resources characterized primarily by tall, highly diverse broad-leaf forests, and secondarily by pine forests, low scrubby woodland areas, and abundant mangroves.

Among the environmental issues facing Belize are deforestation and the management of forest resources. Thousands of hectares of broad-leaf forest have been cleared for agriculture and other purposes).

Nevertheless, it is generally believed that the amount of deforestation that has occurred in Belize is much less than that has occurred in other rainforest countries.

Uses of Forest Resources

  • It serves as a wind break and shelter break where it is bare and prone to sheet and rill erosion.
  • Forest can be set aside for recreational purposes, military exercises, and ecotourism
  • Forest is used for short and long-term research.
  • Forest provides materials such as rope, fiber, dye, etc which are used for both domestic and industrial purposes.
  • Forest cover improves soil fertility and helps in the circulation of nutrients.
  • Forest provides opportunities for teaching and research in natural physical and agricultural science.
  • Forest provides fuel wood which serves as an important source of energy for cooking and heating.
  • Forest provides fodder from the forest and forms an important source for cattle and other grazing animals in hilly and arid regions and during a drought.

2. Arable Land

Soil fertility is one of the most important soil characteristics for crop growth. Crops require nitrogen, phosphorus, potassium, and other nutrients at the right levels to grow properly and yield well.

The fertile land is an important natural resource for the big agricultural sector in the country. Belize has plenty of fertile lands; the country experiences a sub-tropical climate which is favorable for agriculture.

According to research, about 38% of Belize’s land is used for farming.

The agriculture industry in Belize is comprised of three distinct sectors namely the well-developed traditional farmers, modern commercial producers, and the small subsistence farmers.

Some of the crops grown in Belize are sugarcane, citrus fruits, bananas, maize, kidney beans, and vegetables. Since the early 20th century, Belize has been exporting sugar to the United States and Europe.

In the 1990’s Belize became a hotspot for growing and shipping narcotics such as marijuana. This earned it a bad reputation for its role in drug trafficking.

The nation’s new trend in livestock farming has enabled Belize to be self-reliant in the supply of most animal products.

The agriculture industry is important because it employs approximately 20% of Belize’s nationals. The sector is also a big contributor to the national income through exports to Europe and other American countries.

Uses of Arable Land

  • The main function provided by fertile soil is the provision of food which is needed for the survival of man.
  • Fertile soils retain moderate to high levels of the nutrients needed for plant growth and good yield.

3. Aquatic Life

Belize is situated in a coastal area along the coast of the Caribbean Sea. It has big water resources nearby. The big water bodies support the fishing industry in Belize.

Additionally, the big barrier reef in Belize, which is the world’s second-largest barrier reef, provides a habitat and food for diverse marine creatures.

The fishing industry in the Central American nation has evolved to become an important sector in the country.

Unlike in the past when fishing was an insignificant past time activity, it is now a huge commercial activity. Major fishing companies have contracts to fish in Belize territory.

Some of the marine resources got in the country’s water include Shrimp, lobsters, conch, sea turtles, and scale fish. Belize exports most of its seafood products to the United States, the Caribbean, and Europe.

The fishing sector is one of the main income contributors to Belize’s government.

Uses of Aquatic Life

  • Aquatic organisms provide humans with sources such as medicine.
  • They serve as an important source of food for man
  • Energy shelter and raw materials that are used for daily life can be gotten from aquatic life
  • They also help with atmospheric pressure and global climate change.

4. Beautiful Beaches and Barrier Reef

Over half a billion people depend on reefs for food, income, and protection. Fishing, diving, and snorkeling on and near reefs add hundreds of millions of dollars to local businesses.

The net economic value of the world’s coral reefs is estimated to be nearly tens of billions off-site link of U.S. dollars per year. These ecosystems are culturally important to indigenous people around them

Beautiful sandy beaches and the barrier reef have been discovered to be great natural resources in Belize. These resources boost the big tourism industry, which is the second-largest sector in Belize.

The barrier reef in Belize is listed as one of the wonders of the world. Within the marine territory of Belize, there are found enormous barrier reefs. The barrier reef and the country’s magnificent beaches are big tourist attractions.

Every year, thousands of tourists arrive in the coastal cities of Belize on cruise ships. The big numbers of visitors who tour the country provide foreign income to the government of Belize.

Furthermore, the tourism industry employs close to 25% of Belize residents.

When reefs are damaged or destroyed, or even when they are absent it can increase the damage to coastal communities from normal wave action and violent storms.

Barrier Reef

Uses of Beaches and Reef

  • The coral reef structure buffers shorelines against waves, storms, and floods.
  • It helps to prevent loss of life, property damage, and erosion serving as a natural barrier.
  • It provides jobs for local communities in Belize and offers recreation opportunities.
  • They are also a source of food and new medicines.
  • It serves as a tourist center which aids in improving the country’s economy and providing more financial income to the country

5. Limestone

Limestone is a sedimentary rock that consists of calcium carbonate (CaCO3), usually in the form of calcite or aragonite. It may as well contain some considerable amounts of magnesium carbonate (dolomite).

Belize has limestone as one of its natural resources. The nation has a variety of limestone reserves in different parts of the country. The limestone deposits in Belize exist in very small quantities.

Some limestone is found in the area near Mayan mountain ranges. Extraction of the limestone in Belize began as early as the 8th century. The limestone was used in the construction of some of the old structures in the region.

Currently, the limestone deposits have greatly dropped in quantity, and therefore no commercial extraction takes place. However, the limestone pits formed after extraction or erosion provide beautiful scenes for visitors.

Use of Limestone

  • Limestone aggregate is used in road and railroad construction.
  • Limestone is quarried to service the needs of the building and construction industries.
  • Limestone containing clay content is utilized in the production of cement.
  • Crushed limestone is used as a filter stone in on-site sewage disposal systems.

6. Sand and Gravel

Sand and Gravel are one of the most common substances on earth, with a multitude of uses, and have been used by people for thousands of years.

They are deposits found on beaches or in rivers and streams and are mostly quartz (silicon dioxide, SiO2) grains. Weathering of rocks such as granite forms these quartz grains

Belize also has natural resources like sand and gravel within its territory. The two naturally occurring products are found in limited quantities in the country.

The sand is mostly found in areas close to rivers and other water resources. The components are used in the construction sector. In the early days, the sand harvested from the river beds was used in the construction of most buildings in Belize.

Sand and Gravel

Uses of Sand and Gravel

  • The most prolific use of sand and gravel is in the construction industry which is the major resource used in the construction of buildings in Belize. Sand is used in everything from cement and concrete to plastering, roofing, grouting, and painting.
  • Sand and gravel can serve as a defense for buildings from flooding when it’s in sandbags.
  • The silica in the sand is also perfect for creating glass, both for windows and ceramic glass glazes. It’s also used in plastic and metal production.
  • Sand can be used sand to filter water; it works like an abrasive.

7. Gold

Gold has been admired in almost all human cultures, as a result of its known many qualities. Gold is extremely ductile, conducts electricity, doesn’t stain, blends and alloys well with other metals, and can be easily broken down into sheets and wires.

Gold has an unparalleled shine and luster even in its most original form. Because of these unique chattels, gold is used in many ways and forms in modern-day living.

Belize’s Gold Production was reported at 5.000 kg in Dec 2008. Which stayed constant till 2009.

From Dec 1990 to 2009 Belize Gold Production data is updated yearly, averaging 5.000 kg. The data reached an all-time high of 7.000 kg in 2000 and a record low of 0.000 kg in 2005. Belize Gold Production data remains active in status.

Gold

Uses of Gold

  • Because of its high and standard return value, gold has been used as currency for centuries.
  • Gold is considered the best filling for cavities and crowns, bridges, and other orthodontic appliances because the metal is ductile and can easily take shapes.
  • Gold is of the top metals when it comes to being good conductors of electricity and computers.
  • Gold is considered a highly auspicious and precious metal it is used in the making of winning medals for popular world games, championships, and awards.
  • By statistics, about 80% of gold is converted into jewelry.

8. Tin

Tin is found principally in the ore Cassiterite (tin(IV) oxide). Cassiterite is found in Belize but not in sufficient quantity to render it for commercial viability.

This natural resource is mostly found in the Maya Mountains and Guatemala.

Tin Cassiterite

Uses of Tin

  • Most of the tin that’s used today is used to make cans that can hold food and other items.
  • It is used to coat other metals to prevent corrosion, such as in tin cans, which are made of tin-coated steel.
  • Tin is used in the production of soft solder, pewter, bronze, and phosphor bronze.
  • Niobium-tin alloy is used for superconducting magnets.
  • Most window glass is made by floating molten glass on the molten tin to produce a flat surface. Tin salts sprayed onto glass are used to produce electrically conductive coatings.

9. Crude Oil

In 2000 an oil pool was discovered at 130 feet in a water well drilled at Calla Creek in the Cayo District.

This gnasted new interest in Belize resulting in the grant of an exploration license to Belize Natural Energy Ltd. (BNE) which made the first commercial discovery of petroleum in July 2005 in Spanish lookout began producing.

The oil discovered in Spanish Lookout is a light crude oil with API gravity of 40°.

Belize holds 6,700,000 barrels of proven oil reserves as of 2016, ranking 93rd in the world and accounting for about 0.000% of the world’s total oil reserves of 1,650,585,140,000 barrels.

Belize has proven reserves equivalent to 4.6 times its annual consumption. This means that, without Net Exports, there would be about 5 years of oil left (at current consumption levels and excluding unproven reserves).

Belize produces 2,000.00 barrels and exports 102% of its oil production 2,030 barrels per day as of (2016) ranking 101st in the world.

Belize produces every year an amount equivalent to 10.9% of its total proven reserves (as of 2016). Currently, Belize Natural Energy Limited has seen its production reach 5,000 barrels per day.

Uses of Crude Oil

  • Crude oil produces energy that can be released and harnessed for products like gasoline, diesel, and jet fuel
  • Crude oil generates heat which can warm homes in colder weather, making modern living possible even in colder climates.
  • Crude is also used to create the asphalt that cars and trucks move on.
  • Petroleum provides the ingredients that are essential in products like soaps, detergents, and paints.
  • Petroleum is used to help make clothing non-flammable and colorful. It is used in the production of rayon, nylon, polyester, and even artificial furs.
  • It is used for Insulation which keeps unwanted heat from escaping or entering
  • Several items in your kitchen rely on petroleum as a part of their production example refrigerators, molded interior panels, door liners, and even foam insulation, also many stoves function by using natural gas.

10. Barite

Barite is the primary, naturally occurring, barium-based mineral.  Barium, atomic number 56, derives its name from Greek and means heavy.

Barite, which may be found in a variety of colors including yellow, brown, white, blue, gray, or even colorless, typically has a vitreous to pearly luster.

Barite may be found in conjunction with both metallic and nonmetallic mineral deposits.  To be economically viable for extraction, usually the predominant material in a deposit.

The types of deposits in which it is normally found include vein, residual, and bedded.  Vein and residual deposits are of hydrothermal origin, while bedded deposits are sedimentary.

In Belize barite is not found in commercial deposits making it a non-significant resource in the country’s economy. As they tend to import into the country. Barite’s high density and chemical inertness make it an ideal mineral for many applications.

Uses of Barite

  • Most Barite produced is used as a weighting agent in drilling muds. Such as in the United States where about 99% of this natural resource is used for mud drilling.
  • Barite is also used in a wide variety of other applications including plastics, clutch pads, rubber mudflaps, mold release compounds, radiation shielding, television and computer monitors, sound-deadening material in automobiles, traffic cones, brake linings, paint, and golf balls.

Conclusion

Belize is a peaceful nation and exports many of its natural resources. Belize is also very conscientious of its environment.

Belizeans make a living from the natural resources of their country. The primary business there is tourism. However, agriculture and construction are also very important.

Belize’s economy is heavily reliant on its natural resources to provide income to the government and employment to its citizens.

In a nation as small as Belize, but that is witnessing such growth and expansion, it is a modern marvel to be such high-rate producers and consumers of local natural resources.

It is a point of pride in Belize that so much of what is grown here is ultimately consumed here. In doing so, the country provides an outstanding model of sustainability, especially for its relative age, size, and economic status.

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Environmental Consultant at Environment Go! | + posts

Ahamefula Ascension is a Real Estate Consultant, Data Analyst, and Content writer. He is the founder of Hope Ablaze Foundation and a Graduate of Environmental Management in one of the prestigious colleges in the country. He is obsessed with Reading, Research and Writing.

One comment

  1. You’re so cool! I don’t suppose I have read anything like that before.
    So wonderful to find someone with a few original thoughts on this issue.
    Really.. thanks for starting this up. This website is something that’s needed on the internet, someone with a bit of originality!

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