RAINFOREST LANDSCAPE

 

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 infertility.