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Green Hills is mentioned in "American Girl" Travel Diary

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for the Butterflies 

of Belize



The complex relationship between the "Holstein" butterfly (Heliconius sapho), its food plant and its pollen source



Green Hills is managed as a Private Protected Area

Green Hills Private Conservation Management Area

Green Hills is managed as a private protected area. This section provides all the background. Green Hills, although surrounded by villages and farmland is surprisingly rich in wildlife.

A program to record species using infra-red wildlife camera's (Bushnell Trophycam from Trailcampro) has recorded the following species (2010-2012):

Nine-banded Armadillo
White-nosed Coati
Nine-banded Armadillo
White-nosed Coati
Great Curassow Gray Fox Jaguar
Great Curassow
Gray Fox
Jaguarundi - black Jaguarundi-red Margay
Jaguarundi (black)
Jaguarundi (red)
Ocelot Ocelot Ocelot with Opossum
Ocelot with Opossum
Red-Brocket Deer Hognosed Skunk
Red Brocket Deer
Hognose Skunk
Some Rodent
White-tailed Deer Common Opossum Ocellated Turkey
White-tailed Deer
Common Opossum
Ocellated Turkey
Mexican Porcupine Northern Tamandua Tayra
Mexican Porcupine
Northern Tamandua
Black Hawk-Eagle Racoon Paca - Gibnut
Black Hawk-Eagle
Collared Peccary Four-eyed Opossum
Collared Peccary
Four-eyed Opossum
Collared Forest Falcon
Gray-headed Kite
Great Curassow (Female)


BAPPA membership

Since 2008, Green Hills is member of the Belize Association of Private Protected Areas (BAPPA) Green Hills Private Conservation Management Area is located in the Cayo District along the road from Georgeville to the Mountain Pine Ridge (see map). The property is not within or near the national Belize Biological Corridor system but forms a link between the Nojkaaxmeen Elijio Panti National Park and ecologically valuable forest remnants such as those located on Maya Ranch estate and even those along the Macal River.

Green Hills Map

Ownership and size

100 Acres (40 ha) titled property (including property managed for Slate Creek).


The principal commercial activity on Green Hills is the Green Hills Butterfly Ranch (, which provides employment for three staff members and focuses on the rearing of local butterfly species for display as a tourist attraction.

The majority of the property is under secondary forest after having been largely cleared for pasture in the 1980-ies. Some of the steeper hills have remnants of the original forest, but this is heavily impacted by years of uncontrolled agricultural fires.

Most of the secondary forest on the property is utilized as a source of leaves to feed the butterfly caterpillars on which the Green Hills Butterfly Ranch depends. As such the forest management and protection is an integral and even indispensable part of the Green Hills Butterfly Ranch.

There are 2 staff members that patrol the area on a nearly daily basis.

Specific threats include:

  • Heavy hunting pressure (from nearby communities Seven Miles, San Antonio, Cristo Rey, Georgeville)
  • Fire from runaway agricultural fires.

Habitats and Land use

The land use map of Green Hills is presented below.

Green Hills Land Use

Each habitat/land use is characterized as follows:

20 acres fire damaged primary forest of the type” Tropical Evergreen seasonal broadleaved lowland forest, well drained on steep karstic hills (IA21(1)K-s)”. This forest type is strictly protected on the property. Characteristic tree species include: Jobillo (Astronium graveolum), Hogplum (Spondias radkofleri), Gumbo Limbo (Bursera simarouba), Margaritaria nobilis, Bullhoof (Drypetes brownii), White Poisonwood (Sebastiana tuerkheimi), Nectandra nitida, Breadnut (Brosimum alicastrum), Zon (Alseis yucatenensis), Pouteria amygdalina, Mortoniodendron vestitum, Yaxnik (Vitex gaumeri), Give and Take (Cryosophyla stauracantha) and Hinge hinge (Rehdera penninervia). Previously exterminated species (fire damage) Gaussia maya and Xate Chamaedorea ernesti-augusti have been successfully re-introduced in this system.
65 acres secondary forest regenerating to type “Tropical Evergreen seasonal broadleaved lowland forest, well drained on rolling karstic hills (IA21(1)K-r)”. Most of this area was once pasture and has been regeneration since about 1985-1994 (depending on location, so now between 15 and 25 year old). Abundant species include Cohune (Attalea cohune), Bayleaf (Sabal mauritiiformis), Cedar (Cedrela odorata), Bay Cedar (Guazuma ulmifolia), Sombrero (Cordia stellata), Trumpet Tree (Cecropia peltata), Sapium lateriflorum. Jim Crow (Acacia glomerosa), Bastard mahogany (Lysiloma acapulcense), Lonchocarpus guatemalensis, Trichilia havanensis, White Ramon (Trophis racemosa), Grande Betty (Cupania belizensis) and Lippia myriocephala. This system is very prone to fires and near infrastructure, this ecosystem is being under-brushed in order to remove fire-ladders and fuel-load.
3 acres of abandoned farmland linking the forest across the Pine Ridge (Chiquibul or Georgeville) road with the secondary forest on the western part of the property have been reforested in 1994 (now 15 years old) to form a wildlife corridor. Tree species used included principally Figs (Ficus spp.) as these are important for many wildlife species. But other utilized trees include Quamwood (Schizolobium parahybum), Guanacaste (Enterolobium cyclocarpum), Santa Maria (Calophyllum brasiliensis) and several Cordia spp.
2 acres have been reforested with timber trees. Mostly Mahogany (Swietenia macrophylla) but also other species such as Salmwood (Cordia alliodora). Planting started in 1995 (see picture).
10 acres in use for Infrastructure (Buildings, Butterfly Ranch, Roads, Parking), orchard (including food plant plantation) and pasture.
Small Pond Food plant plantation

Hurricane Damage

In October 2010, Green Hills was in the path of Hurricane Richard. Damage was restricted to erratic but widespread tree damage. See the page:

Special Features

Few special features are found on Green Hills. The Pempem Cave is located on Green Hills property it was surveyed and mapped in 2001.

Special species

Green Hills is not critical as habitat for special species, but Yucatan Squirrel, Gray Fox, Tamandua, Jaguarundi, Ocelot, Kinkajou, White-nosed Coati and Tayra are frequently observed.

Irregular visitors (moving through the corridor) include Ocellated Turkey, Black Howler Monkey, Central American Tapir, Jaguar, Puma, Collared Peccary and White-tailed Deer.

See the wildlife camera pictures at the top of this page

Characteristic birds include: Keel-billed Toucan, Chachalaca, Slaty-tailed Trogon, Blue-crowned Motmot, Black and White Hawk Eagle, Plumbeous Kite (nesting), Red-lored Parrot, Black-headed Saltator, Band-backed Wren and many more.

Information base

There is an extensive information base available for Green Hills. Most records are stored in the Biodiversity and Environmental Resource Data System for Belize (BERDS)

Up to 2010 the following species counts were available:

  • 430 Plant species
  • 265 Butterflies (Lepidoptera)
  • 43 Emperor moths (Lepidoptera: Saturniidae)
  • 73 Hawk Moths (Lepidoptera: Sphingidae)
  • 242 Bird species
  • 47 Reptile species
  • 35 Mammal species
  • 21 Amphibian species
  • 10 Snail species
  • 4 Tarantula species
  • 6 Stick Insects (Phasmidae)

Apart from records on the above organisms, specific research and monitoring activities include:

Plumbeous Kite Cayo Tarantula Passiflora lancetillensis


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Last modified: July 11, 2013