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May 16, 2017

APAMO Urges Dialogue Following Crooked Tree Fire

The Association of Protected Areas Management Organizations has tried to thread the needle between supporting member organization Belize Audubon Society in the aftermath of the fire at the Crooked Tree Wildlife Sanctuary visitor center and addressing the complaints of villagers that Audubon’s management affects their way of life.  APAMO asks the villagers to reflect on the importance and value of this protected landscape and to recognize Audubon’s role in the management of a protected area. Audubon’s Executive Director, Amanda Acosta, discusses some of the issues the organization has had with the community and how these may be addressed.

 

Amanda Acosta

Amanda Acosta, Executive Director, Belize Audubon Society

“We do want to assure our co-managers—the Forest Department was out there on Saturday and they know of what’s happened as does the minister that’s relevant to us—that we are committed. We have a co-management agreement with the Government of Belize that we are committed to the protected area and the work that we do which is education, enforcement as well as community outreach. Just to clarify so it is understood, the main issue with Crooked Tree is its designation. It is a wildlife sanctuary—a wildlife sanctuary in its definition does not allow extractive use. We have been working with the community in trying to historically come up with kind of a makeshift relationship; however, legally it is one where no one is being legal—neither Belize Audubon nor the fishing that is happening. In October of 2015, the National Protected Areas Systems Act passed and that has given us leeway to discuss a possible solution and one of the things we have recently looked at is possibly getting its designation changed to a Wildlife Sanctuary Two, which allows traditional usage. However, traditional usage still means sustainable usage, it still means some kind of guidelines and structures and it still means having the conversation with the users and the villagers.”

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