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Jun 22, 2015

APAMO Comes Out Against Proposed New Legislation

Jose Perez

The Association of Protected Areas Management Organizations, APAMO, is the most recent to weigh in on the National Protected Areas Bill and supplementary changes to other supporting legislation.  The government is being soundly criticized for failure to consult with the conservation community prior to tabling these amendments before the House of Representatives.  While the new piece of law intends to reform current legislation governing protected areas by bringing together various initiatives, much of the required preliminaries to carry out the consultation process have been done without the input of APAMO.  Last Thursday, in a letter written to Prime Minister Dean Barrow, Chairman Anthony Hislop informed that an official request was made back in March for APAMO to be fully engaged in the process. Despite a subsequent meeting with select N.G.O.s, no follow-up was ever done to confirm the positions of the organizations in attendance.

 

Jose Perez, Executive Director, APAMO

“First of all, we have two main issues, the issue in respect to the process that was being used, we feel that there wasn’t meaningful consultation and we feel that after a workshop that was held at the Radisson we were expecting that the ministry would come back to the membership and primary stakeholders to validate exactly what was being taken to Cabinet.  That was not done.  And secondly, after getting different critiques from the proposed legislative amendments we have major concerns and that includes also legal opinion that is being provided.”

 

Isani Cayetano

“What are some of the direct impacts of this proposed change once it becomes law?  How is the environmental community affected?  How are Belizeans, how would they be adversely affected should this become law?”

 

Jose Perez

“Well as co-managers, first of all, even as we speak, we feel that there isn’t that full support by the government’s side.  Remember we are co-managers, we manage these protected areas in partnership and we feel that without having the details of how this proposed reform would happen we feel that it would be a significant period of limbo, to say that we cannot afford to have management of protected areas in a state of affairs like that.  But more directly, especially with those more established NGOs, like for example, the Belize Audubon Society who depend a lot on fees, we feel that they would be directly affected, as one of the proposed plans is to consolidate all the funds from all these entities and make, put them into one pot.”

 

Isani Cayetano

“This includes the head tax that is currently being collected by PACT if this consolidation were to happen in that manner?”

 

Jose Perez

“All monies being collected by co-managers currently.”

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