The Belize Foundation for Research & Environmental Education (BFREE) strives to successfully integrate scientific research, environmental education, conservation, and create sustainable development opportunities for alternative livelihoods for Belizeans. The BFREE Privately Protected Area adjoins what is now considered the largest tract of rainforest north of the Amazon. It’s an incredible hotspot for biodiversity where tapirs, howler monkeys, jaguars, and harpy eagles are often spotted, and is the last stronghold for many endangered species.
BFREE was founded in 1995 with a mission “to conserve the biodiversity and cultural heritage of Belize.” BFREE leases and manages 1,153 acres of tropical rainforest that lies within one of the largest contiguous tracts of rainforest in the western hemisphere. BFREE is a US registered 501(c)3 non-profit organization with an office in Gainesville, Florida and has a sister non government organization registered in Belize.
The Field Station supports research by providing housing and logistical support for researchers and conservation workers as well as in-kind contributions and sometimes financial support for studies. In-kind support includes staff, materials for temporary structures, and basic field equipment, while financial support has included raising and providing funds for many research projects. Finally, BFREE is a repository of data and information on the natural history and scientific work done in the Maya Mountains. All facilities at the field station were constructed using a low-impact, environmentally friendly and sustainable approach.
BFREE partners with over 50 colleges, universities, and high schools to introduce students to rainforest ecology and conservation management themes. Field courses range from one to three weeks and focus on everything from tropical forest ecology to arts and sciences. On average, BFREE hosts 10-15 field courses and approximately 200 undergraduate students per year. In addition, BFREE conducts environmental education field trips for students from Belize to visit the BFREE Field Station and experience the incredible flora and fauna of their country.