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Oct 9, 2014

FCD to Hold Telethon To Raise Funds

Rafael Manzanero of Friends for Conservation and Development has been making desperate pleas for much needed assistance to co-manage the Chiquibul National Park. Manzanero has told just about everyone who would listen that Guatemalan encroachers continue to rape and plunder the natural resources in the national park. The recent murder of Danny Conorquie is bringing new focus to the work of the FCD. At a press conference today, the organization launched a telethon to raise a half a million dollars to continue its work. Isani Cayetano reports.

 

Isani Cayetano, Reporting

The Chiquibul National Park, an area within the Cayo District covering four hundred and fourteen square miles, remains under constant threat by Guatemalan poachers.  The nature reserve, sprawling as it is, is co-managed by Friends of Conservation and Development, a non-profit organization dedicated to protecting the environment.

 

Colin Young

Dr. Colin Young, Former Chairperson, FCD

“This is not an easy place to manage.  It’s extremely difficult, as I said before it’s massive.  I don’t think it would be alarmist if I say everyday these rangers go out there’s a potential conflict that can arise because of the illegal incursions.  I have traveled to the border with FCD rangers and with the B.D.F. and I have not walked a single place in that national park where you don’t see signs of Guatemalans.  They are all over the place.”  

 

Despite its ambitious undertaking, FCD is severely lacking in human resources.  With a complement of seven rangers, four of whom remain on active duty at any given time, there is a dire need for additional personnel.

 

Rafael Manzanero

Rafael Manzanero, Executive Director, FCD

“The Chiquibul Forest, as how it is described, yes, it goes beyond the Chiquibul National Park.  If you look at the forest and jungles out there we’re talking about nearly half a million acres of land.  We are looking at seven percent of Belize.  So in practice we can claim that each one of my rangers have one percent of Belize that they represent in the jungle.  And of course everybody will say, “But Rafael that is impossible.”  Of course, we understand that and that’s how the idea of the multi-institutional support.  We can only do this because of the Belize Defense Force, because of the police, because of the customs department, because of immigration, customs and many other people.”

 

Notwithstanding a recent grant of six hundred thousand dollars from the Protected Areas Conservation Trust, PACT, the organization is in need of another half a million dollars to expand its staff of rangers.  To do so, a live telethon will be held on October eighteenth to raise sufficient funds to hire additional rangers, as well as to defray the logistics of the endeavor.  The idea is that FCD would want at least twenty-four men on the ground to properly man the expansive forest, particularly near the Belize/Guatemala border.

 

Valerie Woods

Valerie Woods, FCD Volunteer

“Belize City alone, roughly sixty or seventy thousand in population.  There is about fifty percent for those of us who are employed, the working population, say thirty-thirty-five thousand.  Ten dollars per that amount gets them a long way in meeting that target, just to put it in perspective.  The cost of two beers at a happy hour, just to put it in perspective.  The cost of a desert that you would purchase, put it into perspective.  The cost of one rice and beans plate, put into perspective.  That times thirty thousand or thirty-five thousand which is, I’m being generous, fifty percent of the working population of Belize City alone should help FCD meet the target.  It is not insurmountable when you put it into perspective.”

 

Once the target is realized the objective is to build an additional three conservation posts along the Belize-Guatemala border near the Chiquibul.

 

Rafael Manzanero

“Each conservation post will cost us fifty-one thousand dollars annually to run, that’s the minimum.  That is the minimum, that is only on barebones.  So I have to find another one hundred and fifty-three thousand dollars annually for those three Cps that are coming up right now because we have a commitment to the government, we have a commitment to our colleagues the B.D.F., the police that we also want to put a presence there because it’s a conservation post.”

 

Reporting for News Five, I am Isani Cayetano.

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1 Response for “FCD to Hold Telethon To Raise Funds”

  1. belizeanatheart says:

    I think that even when the initiative sounds good, you have to analyze it more holistically. Why a one shot deal, under whoes portafolio are the Protected Areas? I think this is becoming cancerous of jumping in each telethon when something is wrong. FCD also needs to be transparent in demonstrating how much staff can be retained and how much GOB needs to fund. FCD is an NGO will little resources but with the capability everyone is mentioning, but why then it is not asigned or benchmarked for subvention. This programmes are not sustainable at infinutum they will clash at certain time, since keeping people away or preserving vast amount of natural resource is not the answer, how do Belizean benefit from the chiquibul ZERO. At the end what might happen is that all this prestine land can be given to foreigners or private companies for extraction of natural resources and we all paid for it with tax or donations believing in a dream that those at the table already know.

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