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Jun 6, 2005

PACT celebrates ninth birthday

Story PictureIn a climate of shaky national finances, this quasi-government institution sits on a solid financial foundation, looking forward to playing an even stronger role in safeguarding the nation’s environment. Its name? PACT, and today the organisation paused to celebrate its birthday. News 5′s Jacqueline Woods has more.

Valerie Woods, Executive Director, PACT
?It is not an N.G.O. that advocates, it doesn?t manage protected areas, what it does is to be the catalyst for those who do, providing the financial means. No, we can?t solve it all, we?re just a fund. But we should be able to create that leverage that makes the system more sustainable and makes the focus of what we?re doing have a true impact for Belizeans.?

Jacqueline Woods, Reporting
Nine years ago, the Protected Areas Conservation Trust started with an initial funding of only seventy-two thousand dollars. Today that fund has not only grown to five million dollars, but PACT has also emerged as a model of conservation financing for many countries around the world.

Valerie Woods
?We are at the stage now where the next five years should be one of much more impact, much more partnerships with the relatively larger N.G.O.?s in Belize.?

This morning, PACT?s anniversary was celebrated at a special ceremony the included the donation of motorcycles to six community-based organisations across the country. A donation of five thousand dollars was also handed over to the Youth Hostel, which will use the money to improve their recreational facilities. Since PACT started awarding grants in 1997, it has given over three million dollars to the cause of conservation. PACT?s Board of Directors Chairperson Patricia Mendoza says as they celebrate yet another milestone they are optimistic about the future.

Patricia Mendoza, Chair, PACT, Board of Directors
?It looks good because all the fundamentals are in place, the strategic plan is there, the manuals, procedures are there, the recognition is there.?

One person who was recognized for the work she has done to help lay that foundation is PACT?s Executive Director Valerie Woods. Woods is leaving her job after six years with the agency, but remains very much committed to the conservation of the country?s natural resources.

Valerie Woods
?In terms of my leaving, well it?s my own person challenge. I have two children, one is four and one is seven months, and I?d like to take the time now. My priority is to be with them for the next two to three years on a committed basis. I?ve done it enough for the PACT baby; I?d like to do it for these other two.?

PACT?s funds come from proceeds it collects from a seven dollar and fifty cents fee levied on departing tourists as well as fees from admission to various sites around the country. Jacqueline Woods for News Five.

The ceremony included presentation of business plans for the St. Herman’s Blue Hole and Laughing Bird Caye National Parks to the Belize Audubon Society and Friends of Nature.

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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