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Aug 26, 2019

A Familiarization Tour of Three Protected Areas with TIDE

The Toledo District is rich with natural resources; it is home to pristine rainforests, mountains, an extensive cave network, rivers, offshore cayes and much more. It is also where TIDE, the Toledo Institute for Development and Environment co-manages protected areas on land and sea. Over the weekend, News Five joined TIDE on a visit to some of the sites they co-manage to ensure that they remain in their natural state. Here is News Five Isani Cayetano. 

 

Isani Cayetano, Reporting

The Toledo Institute for Development and Environment was established in 1977 as the first non-government organization in Toledo.  Working closely with the communities of Monkey River, Punta Negra and Punta Gorda, TIDE used biological data to support the need for protection of marine resources.

 

Celia Mahung, Executive Director, TIDE

Celia Mahung

“TIDE is a conservation organization based here in southern Belize and we are engaged in resource management, community outreach, education and outreach, community development, research and our work really is from ridge to reef because we manage two protected areas that are terrestrial and one that’s marine.  So in the terrestrial areas we have the Payne’s Creek National Park that we co-manage with the Forest Department and we also have over twenty thousand acres of private, protected lands that we manage for the people and Government of Belize.  Along with those two terrestrial areas that are adjacent to the Port Honduras Marine Reserve, we co-manage that marine reserve with the Fisheries Department.”

 

In 2000, the Port Honduras Marine Reserve was created after lobbying government to enact legal reserve status.  This protected area is important in maintaining the viability of local populations of the West Indian manatee.  It also plays a key role as a fish nursery area and is part of the national requirements for biodiversity protection.  TIDE’s responsibility is to ensure that the area remains protected.

 

Celia Mahung

“Our main role is to be on the ground doing the surveillance and patrols, either of the marine reserve or the terrestrial areas and yes, we have a co-management agreement and we get, I would say support in terms of training for our capacity building, for our park rangers, whether it’s from the marine reserve or the terrestrial area and really we do most of the work on the ground so we benefit more from trainings from the co-manager.”

 

In 2004, TIDE signed a co-management agreement with the Forest Department for Payne’s Creek National Park which Park spans thirty thousand acres of land that has been set aside to protect a variety of wetland habitats, as well as the unique features of an extensive sequence of storm-built coastal ridges.  Mario Muschamp is TIDE’s terrestrial manager.

 

Mario Muschamp, Terrestrial Manager, TIDE

Mario Muschamp

“Our mission is to engage stakeholders in the sustainable management and use of the natural resources of the Maya Mountain Marine Corridor for the benefit of all here in southern Belize.  And our vision is that Toledo’s ecosystem supports, biodiversity, communities and sustainable development.  So that’s what TIDE is all about.  So it’s conservation but also looking at sustainable development; so the wise use, I would say, of the natural resources here in southern Belize.”

 

TIDE has introduced a number of innovative programmes aimed at developing stakeholder participation in environmental stewardship.  This includes the TIDE Freshwater Cup to promote environmental awareness through sports, as well as the Youth Conservation Competition.

 

Mario Muschamp

“Our education and outreach programme stems from starting with schools, so a lot of what we do is working closely with the schools.  We have what we call a Conservation Athletes Programme and most people know it as Freshwater Cup whereby we work closely with community schools that do environmental projects and then they can play football and win a prize, you know, and we are also working closely with community groups to try and diversify their source of income.  To lessen the impact on the natural resources that we have, we have community groups that do agro-forestry and that kind of stuff.  So it’s not just conservation but it’s also working with the community to diversify their source of income.”

 

Notwithstanding the resources that have been invested into TIDE’s day-today operations, Executive Director Celia Mahung says that the organization still requires additional support.

 

Celia Mahung

“We welcome visitors to our three protected areas.  They can contact us through our website or they can call us at 722-2274 and we can help to arrange visits to the protected areas.  We do need ongoing support for the management of these areas.  As you can tell, it’s a huge area that’s managed by a few people and we do our best to protect what we have for current and future generations.”

 

Isani Cayetano reporting for News Five.


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