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Guatemalan incursions destroy large swathe of Belizean forest

Posted: Sunday, March 24, 2024. 12:18 pm CST.

By Horace Palacio: Guatemalan encroachment in Belize’s protected forests has resulted in the deforestation of an area nearly the size of Belize City, according to the Belize Territorial Volunteers (BTV).

The BTV alleges extensive illegal logging, poaching, and farming within the Chiquibul and Caracol protected areas. The group criticizes what they perceive as a lack of decisive action by Belizean authorities to address the incursions.

This issue is part of a long-standing territorial dispute between Belize and Guatemala. Violent incidents have previously occurred, including the 2014 standoff between armed Guatemalan nationals and Belizean conservation workers.

The Friends for Conservation and Development (FCD), which manages the Chiquibul National Park, has documented the illegal activities.

Belize’s Minister of National Defence and Border Security, Florencio Marin Jr., acknowledges the incursions and states that patrols and collaboration with relevant agencies are ongoing, despite resource limitations.

The minister also confirmed a recent confrontation in the Sarstoon area involving a Guatemalan barge and the Belize Defence Force. Belize is seeking a protocol with Guatemala to regulate activity in the Sarstoon to prevent future incidents.

The Chiquibul National Forest is a vital ecological resource for Belize, and its ongoing destruction has implications for biodiversity, water resources, and the unresolved territorial dispute with Guatemala.

 

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