The Role of Geographic Information in Designating a Sustainable Extraction Zone in Payne's Creek National Park, Belize
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Managers of Payne’s Creek National Park in southern Belize are considering designating a small sustainable extraction zone for Caribbean pine and palmetto palm forest products to support conservation programs and local communities. Zoning is often used in protected areas to help achieve different management goals according to the needs of various regions of the park. This study provides a foundation for a resource extraction zone which encompasses resources of interest while minimizing disturbance to local endangered species. The contribution of field survey and local knowledge to a traditionally computation-based process was also explored. Multiple-criteria decision analysis and ground survey were used to evaluate land suitability within the park based on five zoning criteria: pine and palmetto resources, potential for pine regeneration, local roads, and yellow-headed parrot nest sites. The GIS-based weighted linear combination method was found to be sensitive to changing management goals and therefore useful for reflecting user priorities, but it was significantly improved by the inclusion of ground survey. The data improvements and local expertise gained in the field increased the practicality of zoning options and aided in evaluation of them. Maps of zone option boundaries and resources were created for park managers. One extraction zone option was recommended, which may provide a starting point for a comprehensive zoning plan.