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Guatemalan incursion continues: New road penetrates Belize’s Chiquibul

Posted: Friday, March 8, 2024. 2:27 pm CST.

By Horace Palacio: Friends for Conservation and Development (FCD) has discovered a newly constructed illegal road encroaching on the protected Chiquibul National Park. The road, detected during an aerial reconnaissance mission on February 22nd, originates in the Guatemalan village of El Naranjon and extends approximately 1.4 kilometers into the park.

This alarming development represents a significant threat to the fragile ecosystem of the Chiquibul, which is already under pressure from illegal cattle ranching and agricultural activities. FCD, in collaboration with the Belize Defence Force, is currently conducting ground reconnaissance missions to investigate the road’s origin and purpose, as well as to develop strategies to halt its further expansion.

“This illegal road construction is a blatant violation of Belizean sovereignty and a serious threat to the Chiquibul National Park,” said FCD Executive Director Rafael Manzanero. “We are working closely with the Belize Defence Force to address this situation and protect this vital natural resource.”

The FCD has a long history of protecting the Chiquibul, having established the Rio Blanco Conservation Post in 2008 to deter incursions. Despite successes in curbing illegal activities within the park, cattle ranching continues to plague the western flank, particularly along the Adjacency Zone between Belize and Guatemala.

The newly discovered road, located approximately 3.5 kilometers south of the Rio Blanco Conservation Post, raises concerns about the potential expansion of cattle ranching and other forms of illegal land clearing within the park’s southern region.

 

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