Origins

 

The Association has grown from very informal beginnings with the first meetings following the University of Edinburgh Expeditions and research projects from the mid 1960s onwards. Initially the meetings were conceived as occasions simply to report on the activities and to exchange ideas. At the start there were relatively few researchers in the UK who had worked in Belize and discovering who they were and where to find them took a remarkable amount of time. Gradually it became obvious that there were more people working in Belize than we had realised, and in a host of different fields. 

As a consequence of discovering the interests and activities of other people based in the UK, it was agreed to host the first (still informal) workshop at the National Museum of Scotland in Edinburgh in 1993.

 This was partly triggered by the substantial programme that had been running since the 1970s by the ODA and later more extensively by the /Land Resources Development Centre on Forest Planning and Management Project (the Project Manager being an ex-Edinburgh PhD). The emphasis on the environment was further stimulated by research projects being organised through the Natural History Museum in London, particularly at Las Cuevas, and as a result Edinburgh and London became the two main centres for organising the series of workshops and meetings after 1993. The London links were further strengthened through the presence of the High Commission and the Institute of Latin American Studies.

The links that developed with the Belize High Commission also helped to formulate the Association’s Constitution – a very informal document – that was developed at the 2001 meeting at Warwick University. Over the past decade the remit of UKBA has widened considerably and all aspects of life in Belize are considered at the (near) annual meetings and at the more social events organised mainly through the Belize High Commission. It is hoped that the Association will evolve into the main focus for research and interactive activities between people from the UK working in Belize and for Belizeans both at home and in Europe.