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Friends for Conservation and Development concerned following discovery of Guatemalan road developments inside Chiquibul National Park

Posted: Friday, March 22, 2024. 8:36 am CST.

By Zoila Palma Gonzalez: Friends for Conservation and Development (FCD) reports that an overflight last week with high level officials was conducted over the western flank of several protected areas to primarily observe and document the impact of the road development in the Chiquibul National Park.

According to FCD, the road constructed over the last few weeks inside the Park, located in the Cayo District was obvious and a track following to a creek was also observed.  

“It would seem that the road is for access to water, thereby facilitating for a more pronounced activity of cattle ranching activity in that southern region of the park by Guatemalans.

A boost up of patrols and monitoring presence, with an exchange of note from Belize to Guatemala has been the primary recommendations from FCD,” FCD noted.

In addition, FCD observed another road occurring inside the Columbia River Forest Reserve in the Toledo District.

This forest reserve abuts with the Chiquibul National Park.

The road appears to be fairly recent and is estimated to go beyond 2 km inside Belize. The closest Guatemalan community is El Carrizal.

FCD says that illegal timber extraction has been known to be occurring in that forest reserve for many years, although now it appears to be more organized including the construction of wooden bridges to facilitate entry of trucks to extract the timber which can include rosewood, and other precious woods.

FCD noted that from the air the human activity appears active and fresh with amounts of timber stacked up. These activities are found dangerously close to the Machaquilha Conservation Post. This outpost is approximately 1.4 km away from the Belize/Guatemala Adjacency Line.

FCD does not have any co-management jurisdiction in the Columbia River Forest Reserve (CRFR); however; it recommends for the pertinent authorities to conduct further investigation on the ground to assess the impacts and put together rapid actions to address the problem.

The CRFR has approximately a 22 km stretch of boundary with Guatemala.

 

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