Posted: Monday, November 27, 2017. 2:37 p.m. CST.
By BBN Staff: On Friday, November 24, at the San Ignacio Resort Hotel, Friends for Conservation and Development (FCD) along with Asociacion Balam, a non-governmental organization from Guatemala provided an update and highlights of the cooperation ongoing for the last seven years on their quest for protection of the Chiquibul-Maya Mountains.
Over 80 persons attended the forum including a delegation from Guatemala.
In Belize, FCD has been actively involved in protecting the Chiquibul Forest since 2007.
In Guatemala, Asociacion Balam signed a partnership agreement in 2011 with FCD to conduct conservation efforts in southern Peten, Guatemala in the Chiquibul-Maya Mountains Biosphere Reserve, which is immediately adjacent to Belize’s Chiquibul Forest.
FCD highlighted that to address the incursions, several strategies have been used over the years including environmental law and monitoring, research, environmental education and bi-national collaborations.
The multi-pronged approach has resulted in the reduction of trans-boundary environmental impacts such as xate extraction, poaching and illegal logging.
However, Rafael Manzanero, Executive Director of FCD cautioned that illegal gold panning, agricultural expansion and cattle ranching continue degrading the Chiquibul landscape.
Byron Castellanos, Executive Director of Asociacion Balam informed that a Roundtable Council for Land and the Environment is the coordinating mechanism in southern Peten that is addressing the socio-economic and environmental issues, and has been formidable in helping reduce Guatemalan incursions into Belize.
Castellanos reported that enforcement and development of alternative sustainable livelihoods in 11 communities located nearby Belize’s border have aided in reducing the flow of Guatemalans encroaching into Belize. Over 1,300 persons have benefited from the seed funds.
The presentations of both FCD and Balam then were followed by a set of 13 recommendations.
Among these were for both Governments to resume bilateral relations; assume the commitment to implement the 13 collaborative agreements signed in 2014 by both Governments; and for the Government of Belize to continue financially supporting FCD’s monitoring and protection program in the Chiquibul-Maya Mountains.
The bi-national forum was made possible through the support of the British High Commission Office in Belize and the US Department of the Interior.
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