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Mar 31, 2016

PACT Disburses Over One Million Dollars in Grants

Over one million dollars were disbursed today by the Protected Areas Conservation Trust. Six entities were beneficiaries, with the largest sum going to the Belize Audubon Society for the sustainable management of three reserves which they co-manage.  Others who received funding Steadfast Tourism and Conservation Association, the Community Baboon Sanctuary Women’s Conservation Group, the Sarteneja Fishermen Association, Friends for Conservation and Development and the Fisheries Department. News Five’s Duane Moody reports.

 

Duane Moody, Reporting

Today, the Protected Areas Conservation Trust disbursed a total of one point two million dollars to various grant recipients. It is to strengthen the management and protection of natural resources and protected areas network in Belize. Minister of State in the Ministry of Agriculture was the keynote speaker at the ceremony held at the Biltmore Plaza.

 

Omar Figueroa

Omar Figueroa, Minister of State, Ministry of Agriculture

“Just like at any funding institution, you have to look at the project and the relevance; how it relates, how it will strengthen, how the conservation recommendations will be used. And you have a key list of priorities for Belize for our conservation areas. I have actually received funding from PACT for two projects—for my masters research on jabiru storks and for my doctoral research on jaguars. So for me it kind hits home. When I see guys like Celso Poot advance research on the tapir and the Howler Monkeys Project getting some funding here. What we need to understand is that science is the fundamental guide to conservation. So when you conduct the research on these species, when you do sound research on these species, only then can you really develop meaning conservation strategies for them. And when you develop these strategies, you end up simultaneously protecting a host of sympatric flora, fauna…habitats.”

 

There were small, medium and large grants issued to six entities. Once again, Friends of Conservation and Development was a deserving recipient of a medium-size grant.

 

Rafael Manzanero

Rafael Manzanero, Executive Director, FCD

“This grant is specifically more to one of the problems that we face in Chiquibul which is the gold panning activity. We want to concentrate more efforts into the headwaters and the protection of the headwaters and thus part of it is going to be enforcement. And secondly it is also to raise more awareness about problems that are taking place over there. And thirdly is also to do a level of research to understand more the situation of gold panning on the main headwaters of the Chiquibul. In 2013, we established the first baseline to understand more about the problems of gold panning and what it really means to the environment. What we realize is that the amount of fecal matter and garbage that is already taking place in the headwaters is really a problem. We need to establish more of the baseline because we need to do more of another two years to establish a good baseline. But what we know for sure right now is that the gold and deposits of gold that have been utilized in the area is quite extensive. Even from where the boynton minerals used to occur before and way up to the main highlands. So the human footprint has expanded over the last four to five years.”

 

The larger grants were handed over to the Fisheries Department in the sum of three hundred and forty-nine thousand seven hundred and twenty dollars and to the Audubon Society for three hundred and ninety-nine thousand nine hundred and thirty-nine dollars. According to B.A.S. Executive Director Amanda Acosta, the monies will be sued for the enhancing the long-term sustainability for biodiversity conservation across three known conservation areas in Belize.

 

Amanda Acosta

Amanda Acosta, Executive Director, Belize Audubon Society

“It looks at financial sustainability; it looks at management effectiveness; certain tools that need to be designed. We also have beneficiaries in this case our Cockscomb Basin Wildlife Sanctuary, St. Herman’s Blue Hole National Park as well as Guanacaste National Park. In the project we are also going to be working with communities that buffer these protected areas. So we have at the education level, we’ll be dealing with children in the buffering communities doing education and outreach, talking about the importance of protected areas. And from the community level—from the community stakeholders’ point of view—we will be doing some trainings and we will also be looking at the economic benefits of the protected areas.”

 

Duane Moody for News Five.

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