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Mar 28, 2014

SATIIM continues to monitor illegal harvesting activity

Greg Ch’oc

The perennial issue of rosewood extraction, despite an existing moratorium, remains a thorn in the sides of conservationists across the south.  Illegal logging operations continue throughout Toledo, from Trio in the northwest part of the district to the fringes of the Sarstoon-Temash National Park.  A recent incursion by Guatemalan harvesters within the protected area resulted in the felling of a number of trees.  Notwithstanding a patrol of rangers attached to the Sarstoon-Temash Institute of Indigenous Management, SATIIM, the wholesale despoliation of rosewood is unimpeded.  According to Greg Ch’oc, executive director of SATIIM, the organization is continuing to monitor activity within the area even with a lack of boots on the ground.

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Greg Ch’oc, Executive Director, SATIIM

“We continue to monitor the area, as I have said and the community leaders have committed themselves to, because it is Maya ancestral land.  We have not seen any evidence to date of any further activity, that does not mean that there won’t be any or there may not be any other activity occurring in the park, it’s a huge place and having five rangers and leaders going in to monitor is a huge undertaking.  So, we are monitoring with the limited resources we have and as soon as we encounter any illegal activities we report it to the Forestry Department and in some instances we get ignored, the illegal activities are ignored but we will do what we can do to preserve the ecological integrity of the area that the communities call home.”

 

In early February, rangers on patrol of the Sarstoon-Temash National Park came across a group of loggers in the process of extracting thirty-eight flitches of rosewood in the area of Black Creek, near the Belize/Guatemala border.  Despite notifying authorities an operation to pursue the illegal tree cutters had to be aborted as the men reportedly fled across into Guatemala.

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