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Mar 29, 2000

Audubon/EU launch three-year rural project

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It would be very easy to walk into a rural community and say, “You can no longer shoot that animal and don’t even think about cutting down that tree. We’ve got to save the environment!” But then what? How would these people survive? The European Union has given the Belize Audubon Society a 1.28 million-dollar grant to pursue a three-year project aimed at getting communities involved in managing protected areas. The targeted sanctuaries are the Cockscomb Basin and the Crooked Tree Wildlife Sanctuary. Executive Director of the Belize Audubon Society, Osmany Salas says to save the place, the people have to be involved.

Osmany Salas, Executive Director, Belize Audubon Society

“We also realized in order to involve people and involve them meaningfully, we will have to provide economic alternatives for their new livelihood. So as part of the project, we’ll be looking at implementing such environmentally friendly projects like bee keeping and honey production, craft production and for Crooked Tree, a cashew processing facility. We’ll also be looking at the feasibility of a gibnut rearing facility and a fish farm using native fish species. If these projects are deemed feasible, we would proceed with the next steps of developing and implementing them.”

“The whole idea behind the project is to build local support for the management of protected areas. We have realized that without local support, grass root support, in the long term, the management and conservation of the national parks won’t be successful.”

The Belize Audubon Society will provide technical assistance and be involved with the initial implementation, but by the end of the three years, the programs will be owned and operated by the community groups. In all 14 villages, 5 from Crooked Tree and 9 from Cockscomb will be directly involved with this project. The project will be launched officially in the latter part of April.

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