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Mar 20, 2014

International Day of Forests celebrated with 2-day forum

March twenty-first has been proclaimed as the International Day of Forests by the United Nations General Assembly and it is celebrated by bringing awareness to the importance of the various types of forests. This year, the Forest Department along with the private sector and the Environmental Research Institute of the University of Belize is putting off a two-day forum that will focus on forest management and monitoring stakeholders. It comes at an opportune time because the forest department is faced with many challenges as it relates to monitoring illegal logging. Chief Forest Officer, Wilbur Sabido, spoke to News Five today about the revision of a Forest Policy and Forest Act to address unsustainable logging practices.

 

Wilbur Sabido, Chief Forest Officer

Wilbur Sabido

“One of the cornerstones of the industry are the forest reserves. Forest Reserves comprise over seventeen percent of the terrestrial land mass and these reserves are set aside for sustainable timber production, for watershed protection; to essentially provide all the ecosystem benefits and services that we enjoy, but we do not necessarily appreciate the significance of. But alongside the designation of these forest reserves, we also have large private estates, privately owned and managed for sustainable timber production. These are the cornerstones for our industry. However, what concerns us and concerns everyone really are the areas outside of these forest reserves and private estates where we have unsustainable practices taking place. We also must be careful when we say that unsustainable, logging practices really is as a result of having such a large expanse of forest that we need to regulate and monitor which comes at a cost. What we have done strategically over the past three years at the forest department is that we have strategically reduced the number of non-sustainable licenses that have been issued thus far. There are two important instruments that guide the mandate of the Forest Department…one is the forest policy and the other the forest act. Arguably, they are both outdated. Significant though is that we now have very strong partnerships, very good financial support for us to be able to review the forest policy. We currently have a draft which has been already consulted. We’ve had very good feedback on the Forest Policy, but it needs to be finalized. We need to make sure that everybody that will be affected—that is a key partner, a key player in enacting that policy—is fully convinced that it is something that is doable. And the same thing goes for the Forest Act. We have a large-size grant from the global environment facility which has as one of its key activities, the revision of the Forest Act. We expect that that particular exercise will take place to the end of the year and leading up until 2015.”

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Viewers please note: This Internet newscast is a verbatim transcript of our evening television newscast. Where speakers use Kriol, we attempt to faithfully reproduce the quotes using a standard spelling system.

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