APAMO divided over conservation bills; Minister defends purpose of legislation
Sunday, June 28th, 2015. Aaron Humes Reporting: As the Government of Belize prepared to introduce the National Protected Areas System (NPAS) Act and the Protected Areas Conservation Trust (PACT) (Amendment) Bills in the House of Representatives on Friday, the primary umbrella organization for managers of Belize’s protected areas, the Association of Protected Areas Management Organizations (APAMO) showed division among its membership, a majority of whom are said not to support either Bill.
APAMO claims that follow-up consultation promised by the Ministry of Forestry, Fisheries and Sustainable Development after an initial meeting earlier this year did not materialize, and there remains concerns that APAMO says can only be remedied by their involvement. It says it will take the time to submit the recommendations they wanted to present before the Bills were passed.
In introducing the readings of the Bills Prime Minister Dean Barrow indicated that they would be open to public consultation before going back to the House.
Minister Senator Lisel Alamilla called non-supporters of the bill “misinformed,” denying either that the bills were rushed or that the Ministry had not properly consulted with APAMO. She welcomed any potential “constructive” debate on the content of the Bills.
According to Alamilla, the new legislation allows persons to enter certain protected areas and harvest products in a sustainable manner, recognizes co-management and gives managed access to valuable resources, and is a “modernized” piece of environmental legislation.
Though they would not speak to the press, representatives from a number of different conservation groups packed the National Assembly to support the tabling of the bills. They are the Corozal Sustainable Future Initiative (CSFI), Wild Tracks, Ya’axche Conservation Trust and the Toledo Institute for Development and Environment (TIDE).
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