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May 10, 2012

Whitley Fund for Nature Award features Lisel Alamilla

As we reported on Wednesday night, Minister of Forestry, Fisheries and Sustainable Development Lisel Alamilla, is now also an award winning conservationist. Alamilla received the 2012 Whitley Fund for Nature (WFN) Award and almost one hundred thousand dollars to continue her work with Ya’axche Conservation Trust in the south. The recognition is particularly for conservation efforts in the area known as the Maya Golden Landscape, which is home to over three thousand plant species, one hundred and ten mammals, four hundred birds as well as ninety-two reptiles and amphibians. Known for its biodiversity, the landscape is fragile and is threatened by development and agriculture, which Alamilla has been working with Ya’axche to prevent. Here’s a video by the WFN on the project that won the award.

 

Narrated by WFN Trustee, Sir David Attenborough

The Maya Golden Landscape of Southern Belize; this three hundred thousand acre patchwork of rainforest, small villages and farmland is home to a stunning array of biodiversity. More than three thousand species of plant are found here as well as a number of endemic and threatened species, including jaguars and Belize’s national animal, the tapir. Although sixty-two percent of Belize’s forests are still intact and with nearly half lying in protected areas a rapidly growing population is driving demand for the conversion of land for development and agriculture. Economic debt and pressure to deregulate protected areas for oil exploration is further moving focus away from preservation and putting an increasing strain on natural resources.

 

Lisel Alamilla and the Ya’axché Conservation Trust, however, are fighting to keep conservation and sustainability at the top of the agenda in Belize. Through advocacy, outreach and education, Lisel and Ya’axche are uniting stakeholders at all levels, ensuring that the demands of communities at the grassroots are given the same attention as those at the very top. By improving access to relevant information, Lisel and her team are empowering communities to participate in local and national consultations and decision making, whilst encouraging a lasting commitment to environmental stewardship. The first of its kind in Belize, Ya’axche’s integrated approach is building a platform for effective sustainable development and ensuring that the Maya Golden Landscape remains a critical haven for biodiversity.

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