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Jul 25, 2013

Several N.G.O.’s file co-management agreements.

Lisel Alamilla

But for SATIIM and APAMO, this is very serious business. They feel that government is trying to bully N.G.O.s into signing co-management agreements by using the carrot and the stick approach. And while they and some other N.G.O.s are determined to stand firm, there are some N.G.O.s who have signed on. Mike Rudon has more on that.


Mike Rudon Reporting

Minister Lisel Alamilla is sticking to her guns, defending government’s right to change the co-management agreement even after negotiations were concluded. She says that the Cabinet’s version of the co-management agreement is final, and for most of the N.G.O.s concerned, there is not a problem.


Lisel Alamilla, Forestry Minister

“What they have is final Marisol, what they have is final. And I think that it needs to be clearly stated which co-manager is not in agreement with the co-management agreement that was sent to them. Because I have a long list that I shared with you earlier of co-managers that have already signed on; that are members of APAMO that have signed on.”


The Minister is referring to these NGOs who signed on Wednesday.


Lisel Alamilla

“Just yesterday, I finished signing co-management agreements with a number of N.G.O.s—I did about six or seven of them. At the very beginning, the larger N.G.O.s, TIDE, Ya’axche, Friends for Conservation and Development and the group in Sarteneja were the first four that came forward and said they were ready to sign. Since then, because they were going back and forth discussing this co-management agreement, we have then gotten the response and the agreement from Rio Blanco, Rancho Dolores, Gales Point, a group from Corozal and others who have committed to sign. And yesterday I signed it and today they are having a workshop with co-managers and they are going to finalize that agreement.”


But SATIIM’s Executive Director Greg Ch’oc and APAMO’s Chairman Edilberto Romero say that’s where the carrot came in. In this case the carrot is funding from PACT, which is the lifeblood for many N.G.O.s.


Lisel Alamilla

“The decision was made that in order to streamline the process. That if you had management plan that was endorsed by the forest department and the fisheries department, why then do you need a letter from forestry and fisheries to say that these activities are legitimate when the activities that you should be seeking funding for are those activities that are including within the management plan? So the idea was to remove one layer of bureaucracy from the process. And then that PACT will then look at the co-management plan and determine that the co-management plan and the application for funding were complementary. And that you also had to have legitimate standing as a co-manager. PACT is not just going to be giving anyone funding. You have to have legal standing as a co-manager. And this had been left kind of in limbo because we were working on the co-management agreement. But the co-management agreement is final. Cabinet has endorsed it and so we need to regularize it and implement it.”


Carrot and stick aside, G.O.B.’s bottom line is crystal clear.


Lisel Alamilla

“I think that we have to understand that co-managers do not own these protected areas. They are managing these protected areas on behalf of the government of Belize. Tomorrow the government of Belize can decide that this framework is not achieving the goals that the government wants for its protected areas. This is what we are failing to understand. We are acting or pretending that these are private lands that belongs to TIDE; that belongs to the Belize Audubon Society; that belongs to Ya’axche. They are not. They belong and are the responsibility of the Government of Belize to manage. And the N.G.O.s who are involved in co-management need to recognize that these areas do not belong to them. They belong to the people of Belize and the government of Belize has the responsibility to, at the end day, deliver on the conservation goals of this country.”


Mike Rudon for News Five.

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