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Aug 17, 2010

4th Annual Natural Resources Mgmnt Research Symposium at UB

dr. elma kay

The fourth annual Natural Resources Management Research Symposium started today at the University of Belize Belmopan campus. Topics up for discussion in the two-day forum include deforestation, marine and terrestrial wildlife as well as the highly controversial issue of oil exploration. Organizations involved in protected areas management are swapping notes on recent research and projects—information that can be used to improve natural resource preservation policies. The meeting comes at a time when the management of protected areas and possible oil exploration are being widely debated so News Five headed to Belmopan to find out what the purpose of the symposium in the on-going debate. We spoke to Organizer, Dr. Elma Kay.

Dr. Elma Kay, Organizer, 4th Annual NRM Symposium

“The idea of the symposium is really, I think it’s a unique space in which researchers as well as managers of natural resources, for example protected area managers, can come together and share the latest findings in whatever work they are doing. The idea is to stimulate discussion, conversation, to have everybody see what work everybody else is doing so that—you know sometimes you find that there’s people doing all kinds of things and it’s not very well coordinated. So this type of academic forum provides a space for people to come together and actually be able to share in their findings or to stimulate new ideas and discuss how to better do things as a group.”

Delahnie Bain

“And the information that comes out in this symposium, what is it used for?”

Dr. Elma Kay

“There are several ways in which we can use the information. I mean the idea for science and for science to be credible is that science has a process. And so all of these works, the ultimate validation of any scientific work is actually to go through the peer review process and be published. So you know all of these authors can submit their work to be published. But beyond that, we can incorporate it into national plans and policies. At the moment the Environmental Research Institute is putting together and almost finalizing a National Natural Resources Management Research Agenda that sets what are some of the priority areas in which we need scientific evidence to be able to do a better job of managing our national resources.”

Dr. Kay also spoke on the benefits of the information coming out of the symposium for the students. She says that since the inauguration of UB’s Environmental Research Institute, more students are taking an interest in studying and working with natural resources.

Dr. Elma Kay

“We have a big contingent from the University of Belize because prior to this, it may sound amazing but not a lot of people at UB were involved in environmental research. Now that we have the Environmental Research Institute, we have several projects in which our own people are doing the work. By the students participating in these events, they can see how the process works and they are excited about the works that’s happening. There’s nothing better to excite students than to see all those amazing pictures of jaguars, for example, but better yet to get them out in the field. As you saw some of the presentations this morning, the work that we’ve been doing always involves students and they are out there. They get out in the field, they see the plants and there’s not a better way to foster their curiosity and want them to do research and do science. Also they will be participating and presenting their work today. We’re very proud of our students who have completed thesis projects and mostly these are done at UB in partnership with other entities. So today we’ll have three students who completed their research project and will be presenting posters today. They will be in a competition; the winner of that competition will present their work at a Regional Congress in Costa Rica of the Mesoamerican Society for Biology and Conservation. So that’s a big plus.”

The symposium continues on Wednesday with presentations on Marine Managed Areas.

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