The Sartenejan Region is mostly semi-deciduous
rainforest. Many trees in semi-deciduous rainforest drop their leaves to survive the dry season. This type of
semi-deciduous rainforest is the most threatend in Central America and only found in the Sartenejan Region,
Belize, and on the Yucatan Peninsula in Mexico.
Some trees flower after leaf drop to give the
maximum potential to their display. Many of these ornamental trees are very beautiful and contribute to
the landscape of Sarteneja.
The forest around Sartenaja, and the region comprising most
of the lowland Maya
civilisation in Belize and the Yucatan, was heavily utilised and generally cleared. The Maya
population that lived in the Sartenaja Region is shown by the numerous house mounds, wells, burial mounds,
pyramids, and other archeological artifacts for many kilometers inland.
The presence of the Maya for over 2000 years shows that much
biodiversity in the region lived in a developed landscape. For instance the common presence of sapodilla trees,
that are valuable for fruit and wood, throughout Belizean forests has been attributed as a legacy of Maya landscape
management. How the presence of the Maya affected most biodiversity is undermined.
However, the story of the traces of the past we see in the
semi-deciduous rainforest begins much earlier with the formation of the limestone base to the region in the
Miocene. The rainforest was recently inhabited by giant browsing animals including the ground sloth that
could drag down tree branches with its huge claws. The only surviving browser of this group is the
comparitively smaller tapir.
These giant animals are now extinct, but their previous presence
explains why there are so many sorts of spiny trees in the forests around Sarteneja. The plants developed their
spines to avoid being eaten and have remained the same since.
Under current management practices
we will loose much of the regions biodiversity over a few decades. Land is cleared in large areas without
considering leaving some uncleared with corridors of forest joining these. Industrial agricultural practices are
largely chemical based, do not necessarily grow the best crops, and result in soil loss and