Posted: Wednesday, July 25, 2018. 8:00 a.m. CST.
By BBN Staff: Friends for Conservation and Development (FCD) today informed that with funding from the Global Environmental Facility – Small Grants Programme (GEF SGP), they have concluded a unique bio-cultural project in the Vaca Forest Reserve.
The project included the use of agroecological and climate-smart innovative practices among local farmers.
The Vaca Forest Reserve covers an area of 16,317 hectares and buffers the Chiquibul National Park in the Cayo District.
The Capacity Building and ClimateSmart Innovative Agroecological Practices project in the Vaca Forest Reserve was endorsed by the Belize Forest Department.
The project assisted 15 farmers from Benque Viejo del Carmen, San Jose Succotz and Arenal with the aim of reducing land degradation in the Vaca Forest Reserve and adjacent areas.
Pilot projects included: use of organic fertilizer, the establishment of protein and energy banks, installation of efficient irrigation systems, improvement of water sources, cover structures, reforestation and restoration of the landscape.
As a result of the pilot projects, the farmers spent less inputs, increased yields; thereby increasing income for their families.
FCD reports that through the improved farming techniques, farmers reduced their farming practices inside the reserve, forest fires were lessened, land fertility was improved and water sources were secured.
As a consequence, the human footprint expansion has been contained, and thus reducing any human-induced pressures on the biodiversity of the Chiquibul Forest.
The Vaca plateau has passed through a transition stage from a well forested area to serious degradation and now recovery.
According to FCD, there are four areas and four identified sectors that have been the root of the decimation of this forest:
1.) llegal Guatemalans are constantly enlarging their fields for agricultural production and cattle ranching along the 17 kilometers of the Western border of Vaca reserve area.
2.) North of the reserve is the community of Arenal that has also been encroaching the reserve over the years.
3.) There are also loggers that annually extract the timber despite it being known that there are no healthy stocks of trees in the area.
4.) And finally, there are the local farmers, that have been the primary stakeholders of the GEF SGP supported the project, operating inside the reserve and adjacent areas.
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