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Jan 12, 2017

Illegal logging uncovered in Mayflower Bocawina National Park

The Mayflower Bocawina National Park, in the Stann Creek District, covers over seven thousand, one hundred acres of verdant jungle, refreshing waterfalls and early Mayan sites.  Located near Silk Grass Village, the vast expanse is mostly evergreen broadleaf, lowland and hill forest ecosystems.  It is also under attack by illegal tree cutters and poachers.  Earlier this week, park rangers happened upon a heap of Yemeri flitches, as well as several felled trees that hadn’t been sawed.  Over ninety pieces of prepared lumber, the value of which hasn’t been determined, were confiscated and turned over to the Forest Department.  The discovery has prompted the Association of Protected Areas Management Organizations, APAMO, to speak out on the pillaging of natural resources within the protected area.  According to Executive Director Jose Perez, increased incursions into these locations are contributing immensely to deforestation and are adversely affecting the natural environment.

 

On the Phone: Jose Perez, Executive Director, APAMO

“Late Tuesday evening, the rangers came across some lumber that was already prepared and ready to extract out of the park.  They also found some fallen trees that it seems persons who were cutting didn’t have time to finish their work.  Nobody was found on site.  Yesterday the Forest Department was called in and they did a count of the material that was found and they took it and they have it in their custody.  Nobody was found on the scene so nobody can be held accountable.  Nevertheless, the cutting of tree was quite within the park and we saw the need to alert the country, the general public because it’s something that’s happening consistently and although the rangers at the park are trying their best to patrol the protected area, it’s over seven thousand acres and it is quite a challenge.  But we are asking the general public to please lend their support to the efforts of these hardworking rangers and the individuals involved in the surveillance and protection of these parks by not buying lumber from these people who don’t have licenses.  It is really affecting the protected areas.  The deforestation is increasing significantly on a yearly basis and we need the cooperation of the general public.”

 

Isani Cayetano

“What species of trees are we looking at sir?”

 

On the Phone: Jose Perez

“Most of the trees were Yemeri trees.  Yes, most of them were Yemeri trees.  None were these hardwood trees like mahogany.”

 

Isani Cayetano

“Now, in working with the Forest Department, were you guys able to appraise the value of the material that was felled in the national park?”

 

On the Phone: Jose Perez

“That is a piece of information, Isani, that I don’t have.  It’s something that I would need to get from the Forest Department.  But as I said, most of them, they were already prepared in two-by-fours and these were from huge, tall, healthy Yemeri trees.  So we know that the value and the dollar value per piece of lumber is quite substantive, but also the environmental impact that deforestation causes to the ecosystem within the park.  Also what happens during this illegal logging is that these same people do illegal hunting and they are also putting some pressure on the wildlife also.  So some deer feet were found there, empty cartridges and shells and even some feathers of wild birds.  So there’s a lot of illegal hunting also occurring in the park.  We need to sit down with the police department as we really want to establish some kind of protocol or strategy where we get some kind of quick response from them.  I think their support is very, very important.  We know that these people are armed and so confronting these people during their cutting period, which is mostly in the night, would require the police department and so we are hoping and we are looking forward to working with the police department and being able to establish some kind of protocol because we have a problem and we can only address it together.”

 

APAMO is calling on sawmills, particularly those in the Stann Creek and Toledo districts to reinforce the effort to curb illegal logging by making sure that whomever they are purchasing lumber from are both genuine and certified to conduct logging activities.

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