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Jul 18, 2013

The Chiquibul Symposium represents a fight for nationhood

There will be an important symposium in Belize City on Friday, and it’s all about the Chiquibul National Park. Friends of Conservation and Development, the N.G.O. charged with the monitoring and protecting the resources within that park, will be hosting the session which will feature three segments led by well establishing personalities in the environment. The first will focus on the importance of Chiquibul; the second will be on the threats to stability, conservation and sovereignty and the third will be the way forward. The aim is to make Chiquibul a household name countrywide, and today volunteer member of the FCD Valerie Woods-Smith told the media that this campaign is no less important to the country than the fight for Independence.

 

Valerie Woods-Smith, Volunteer Member, FCD

Valerie Woods-Smith

“What we expect is one, a renewed interest to get involved with the Chiquibul. We hope one of the top takeaways is to be able to get some user-friendly, palatable, easy to digest sweet of recommendations that can be readily and easily implemented. Obviously those that are a big harder to implement, will take longer. We noh di ask for nothing we think that is impossible nor are we asking somebody to go write a check of X amount. Does FCD needs donations and contributions. Yes of course, like any other N.G.O., but we really are attacking this thing first by making people aware that Chiquibul dah noh just bout the one or two Guatemalans that cover, weh get caught for illegal logging. It is about that yes, and it is about illegal gold mining, yes. But it is also about the quality of the watershed weh di affect the water that you and I drink. It is about the quality of the watershed and the who ecosystem from Mexico, Guatemala and Belize that affect noh just we down here dah the city, but all the villages along that stretch that forms part of that.”

 

Reporter

“So ultimately, you expect that after such an effort, things can go further in terms of finding solutions to the problem because we have been hearing FCD sending out recommendations to the government which to us or I can’t see that.”

 

 

Valerie Woods-Smith

“Yes that’s our expectation and keep in mind that somebody has to lead the charge, if you will. And so it is an FCD initiative, but it is the first time that we are bringing pretty much most of the parties together and airing it publicly. So we do feel it is a different approach. Don’t get me wrong…by no means I want to suggest that you have the symposium Friday July nineteenth and by July thirty-first we are good. It is not that. What we are hoping, because we have the symposium July nineteenth, first and foremost, more Belizeans understand the importance and why we collectively need to act. We are hoping that it will cause more effort with government to look at where or when or how some of the recommendations that have either been put forwarded and some new ones that are being put forward can be implemented and what can we do to make it happen. And yes we are hoping that we can sustain a campaign on the Chiquibul. We can’t sustain a campaign on all things protected areas. That is not my role, I volunteered to be a member of FCD, but we do feel Chiquibul because of the amount of communities it impacts—both on our side and Guatemala—because of the amount of natural resources and economic resources it has in share size as a block—the Chiquibul Forest—we do think it deserves a singular campaign in the household. So to be honest, it is a long term thing. It will require nothing different than the road to independence and I am not exaggerating it. House to house, business to business, school to school…that’s how serious we are about the Chiquibul area; that’s the importance we’ve put to it. the amount of effort it took to get us to independence is no less required to get people to rally around Chiquibul and have it become a household name.”

 

Each session will feature a panelist and presentation followed by a discussion session. The Chiquibul Symposium takes place at the Radisson Fort George Hotel from nine am to midday on Friday.

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