Army tree planting project to protect the jungles of Belize

Jurassic Park, minus the dinosaurs, is just one of the ambitious projects the British Army has undertaken in Belize to help mitigate climate change by planting trees.

The Park project saw military personnel from the British Army Training Support Unit (Belize) (BATSUB) work in partnership with environment advisors from the Defence Infrastructure Organisation (DIO) to plant 57 fruit tree saplings of various types.

Many were only a foot high when planted and now two years later some are 15 feet in height and already bearing fruit.

Situated in the Manatee Forest Reserve, the Park is a natural cave system situated on a disused live firing training area which had deteriorated over time, having been left to the elements.

The positive impact the tree planting has had on the environment and its wildlife, was demonstrated when Black Howler monkeys and Spider monkeys were seen returning to live in the area.

It is one of many initiatives that the British Army is highlighting to mark World Rainforest Day.

DIO Training Range Safety Officer Major Alan Grant said: “BATSUB and DIO takes its environmental responsibilities very seriously. We are here in Belize as guests and whilst we prepare soldiers to face the jungle, we are also careful to conserve the environment that they rely on for their activities.”

If an exercise unit damages a tree, or a tree has to be cut down for essential works, the BATSUB policy is to replace it with three trees of the same type.

Other environmental projects include an orchard of over 200 fruit trees including mango, custard apple and soursop, that have been planted in a joint effort by staff from the Belize Defence Force, BATSUB staff, the DIO environmental inspection team and all their families. 

Prior to planting, volunteers had to roll up their sleeves to prepare the ground whilst a second team located in-season saplings for planting. 

In addition to reducing the carbon footprint, the orchard will also provide solace and shade for the local wildlife.

As well as playing their part protecting the jungle, BATSUB and the DIO have also joined forces with conservation charity Panthera, to monitor and protect endangered wildlife to ensure the essential military training does not disturb local habitats.