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Oct 23, 2014

5 N.G.O.s Receive Grants from PACT

The Protected Areas Conservation Trust has been in existence for about twenty years, and in that time has disbursed over twenty million dollars to conservation entities and N.G.O.s in Belize. Today, a little over a million dollars was handed over to five organizations in three categories – small, medium and large grants. The ceremony was held at St. Herman’s Blue Hole National Park on the Hummingbird Highway. Mike Rudon was there and has the story.

 

Mike Rudon, Reporting

The ceremony this afternoon was short, and especially sweet for the five entities which received sizable grant funding from the Protected Areas Conservation Trust. These are the organizations which have written credible and viable project proposals for the enhancement of the areas they co-manage with GOB. Friends for Conservation and Development received the largest grant, almost six hundred thousand dollars.

 

Herbert Haylock, Chairman, PACT

Herbert Haylock

“It’s a very rigid process in terms of the selection, but looking at key areas in terms of how do these particular projects look at sustainability issues for the particular protected areas. And then you look at issues related to the integrity of the protected area and the security of the protected area.”

 

Rafael Manzanero, Executive Director, FCD

“This proposal is providing us funding. Almost all of the activities there is how do we generate our own finances….starting from tourism and going from research that is going to tell us what to do in terms of doing tourism in the area. We are going to develop a tourism master plan where we are looking at adopt a ranger program that has basically started there. That is one of the activities in the proposal so we are very much certain that we will have to build on those mechanisms on how to sustain the effort.”

 

The Chiquibul National Park receives its fair share of attention, and there are other worthy projects which have earned PACT approval. One such proposal was presented by the Southern Environmental Association, and the other by the Rio Blanco Mayan Association, which manages the Rio Blanco National Park.

 

Arreini Palacio, Operations Manager, Southern Environmental Association

“This grant is three-prong and it will be used for infrastructural development on Laughing Bird Caye National Park and Gladden Spit/Silk Cayes Marine Reserve. It will also be used for interactive educational displays and also importantly for a business plan that will help boost our financial sustainability as a non-governmental organization.”

 

Regina Choc, Rio Blanco Mayan Association, Toledo District

“The title for this project is increasing visitation to the Rio Blanco National Park. We will have most of the infrastructure in place. Like for example, the hammock bridge that will be across the river whereby we will get more visitors and it will be more attractive to the visitors.”

 

Arreini Palacio

Along with Ya’axche and the Steadfast Tourism and Conservation Association, these successful grantees have satisfied PACT of the sustainability of their proposals, because it is not expected that these entities will earn PACT’s largesse every year.

 

Herbert Haylock

“Sustainability remains critical, remains a key. It is looking at how do you develop and further the capacity of infrastructure personnel to be able to move certain initiatives, certain objectives, within the protected areas—whether it is looking to be able to enhance infrastructure that will bring additional folks into the parks, that would bring additional revenues and income streams. Or for example, ensuring that from the point of view of let’s say the protective activities, that you are putting on the ground the sufficient manpower; that you have resources behind that manpower.”

 

Regina Choc

Arreini Palacio

“That is one of the objectives of this grant. It is to look at ways that we can achieve financial sustainability. As you know, it is very difficult for us to continue to work as conservation N.G.O.s without financial sustainability. So the business plan will address a part of that. The next step after the business plan is to implement.”

 

Coming off the wake of a successful telethon which raised more than three hundred thousand dollars to hire rangers, Manzanero is grateful for PACT’s recognition of the work they have done in the Chiquibul Forest.

 

Rafael Manzanero

“From the child who was able to open their piggy bank and be able to provide at the telethon, to be able to have the government of Belize to support us in our programs—through PACT and also from central government; that is phenomenal. As we are able to obtain that support, I must say that the due diligence and responsibility is a lot. There is no way that we at FCD feel that that is basically only the people coming forthwith and that we can be responsible for that. In fact it becomes even much more on t he responsibility of us to ensure that we are able to meet those objectives.”

 

PACT provides input and monitors the projects being funded from start to finish…to ensure that they are indeed achieving the goals stated in the proposals. Mike Rudon for News Five.

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