By BBN Staff: Yesterday, the Protected Areas Conservation Trust (PACT) hosted an official vehicle handing over ceremony in Belmopan.
Six new vehicles, valued at a total of $450,146.30 were handed over to the four beneficiaries of the Chiquibul Forest Investment Initiative (CFII).
The CFII Consortium includes the Belize Defence Force (BDF), the Belize Forest Department, Ya’axché Conservation Trust and Friends for Conservation and Development (FCD).
The BDF received three new vehicles while the remaining three organizations received one vehicle each.
The CFII was launched in December, 2016; and at $2.28 million it represents the largest single investment that PACT has made to four agencies for a joint cause.
The main objective of the Initiative is to increase the management presence and strengthen enforcement within the Chiquibul and the surrounding forest areas along our Western border. These areas consist mainly of the Columbia, Vaca and Chiquibul Forests.
The effects of illegal activities along the Belize-Guatemala border represent a threat to both the biodiversity of these areas, as well as the safety.
In his address, Minister of State in the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries, Forestry, the Environment and Sustainable Development (MAFFESD), Dr. Omar Figueroa explained that the Chiquibul Forest Investment Initiative “is part of a larger $15.8 million investment by the Government of Belize, to stimulate the protection and conservation of our natural resources in the Chiquibul and surrounding areas. It is also in line with state measures to provide for a sustained level of protection along our borders.”
Over the next three years, the CFII will also contribute to the establishment of two new conservation posts, and the installation of access roads.
The new initiative will allow the organizations to increase their patrols throughout these key areas.
Speaking on behalf of the Belize Defence Force, Commander David Jones expressed his commitment to continue working with each of the other beneficiaries. He noted that the vehicles are “a very welcome gift that will go a long way in regards to effectiveness and efficiency in patrolling our border and ensuring our territorial integrity and sovereignty in particular in the Chiquibul Forest Reserve.”
PACT thanked the members of the CFII Consortium for the commitment and invaluable service they provide through the management and protection of these protected areas.
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