By BBN Staff: Friends of Conservation and Development (FCD), the non-governmental organization which co-manages the Chiquibul Forest Reserve held a bi-national planning meeting this week to craft the third Chiquibul-Maya Mountains Technical Plan.
FCD held the meeting at the Office of the Organization of American States located in the Adjacency Zone along with entities such as the Guatemalan Ministry of Agriculture, the Guatemalan Consulate, National Forest Institute, Balam Association, and the National Council of Protected Areas (CONAP) – which is the Guatemalan equivalent of the Protected Areas Conservation Trust (PACT).
FCD explained that the technical plan which is geared towards reducing Guatemalan incursions into the reserve serves as a road map for both Balam and itself in guiding their conservation efforts within the Chiquibul on both sides of the border. The original technical plan was created in 2007, and a follow up was created in 2013. The 2013 plan hinged mainly on three areas: environmental security and governance; environmental education and human welfare; and sustainable livelihoods.
In 2016, FCD also signed a memorandum of understanding with a company in the United Kingdom called SELVANA Limited for a conservation initiative called the Maya 2020 project.
Under the MOU, FCD will be the organization to implement the project and its focus is primarily on protecting the Chiquibul from illegal foresting and poaching. The project will combine traditional patrolling efforts with a range of remotely sensed imagery techniques and ground-based acoustic technology. A global network of trained volunteer observers will monitor the forest in real-time from anywhere in the world – 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
There are several ongoing efforts to protect the Chiquibul, because of its vast size and importance to Belize. The reserve is 414 square miles of rich forest, containing myriads of animal and plant species which make it one of the most diverse reserves in the region.
FCD’s 2012 assessment indicated that Belize has had an approximate economic loss of US $9,448,144.00 due to illegal logging causing the Central Government an approximate loss of US $290,170 in royalty earnings.