Palm leaves for thatch-roofing

Thatch roofing in Belize was used by many traditional communities up to the end of the 20th century, but has rapidly been replaced by modern materials in many parts. It is however still hugely popular in the tourism industry, for the construction of cabañas in tourist resorts.

Unfortunately, truly sustainable harvest programs do not yet exist in Belize, which is why CSFI has worked hard to create one for Freshwater Creek Forest Reserve.

We harvest our leaves from two species of palms locally known as Wano. Both are found within various forests types of the reserve, and are notoriously difficult to tell apart when not flowering.

As mentioned in the introduction, great care is taken not only to prevent any harm do the trees during harvest, but also to make sure the trees do not get exhausted during the process. A minimum of ten years is applied between harvests.


Poles and Decorative Woods

Freshwater Creek Forest Reserve can also sustainably provide various decorative woods in the form of poles, vines or roots. A well-known example is the Warree-Wood (Caesalpinia gaumeri), which intertwined trunk makes beautiful poles. Many other species exist, some of which for example can be used for half-wall veranda fencing.

As is the case with the harvest of palm leaf, great care is given not to hurt overall population. Harvest in a given hectare is only done when poles and woods originate through the thinning of potential future trees, or when stand densities allow for the extraction of a few individuals.



Over the past few decades, Freshwater Creek Forest Reserves has been largely depleted of timber of legal and harvestable size. What remains are vital mother-trees that today provide the seeds for our nurseries. Hence, it will be at least 10-15 years before true and valuable timber again comes out of Freshwater Creek.

However, CSFI’s team proudly produces thousands of Mahogany (Meliaceae: Swietenia macrophylla) and Spanish Cedar (Meliaceae: Cedrela odorata), used to replenish the forests of Freshwater Creek. Every year, we sell a substantial amount of these trees to anyone willing to plant them at resorts, school yards, private gardens and parks, and even for small size reforestation projects.

Our trees are usually 1-3 years old, which is the ideal age to plant. We also gladly give advice on how to plant trees, in order to maximize their chances of survival. Mahoganies that were planted at Shipstern Headquarters in 1990 are by now the largest trees on the compound.