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Feb 14, 2020

REDD+ Builds Awareness Among Youth in the West

Forests across the world are disappearing at an alarming rate and because deforestation causes almost twenty percent of global emissions, the preservation of trees is important to slow down climate change.  About two years ago, Belize was recorded as having fifty-nine percent of its forest cover, with a deforestation rate of zero point six percent per year for the last couple decades. But it has been documented that in areas where there are increased developments, the deforestation is about four times higher.  But a UN initiative, called REDD+, is being rolled out to help countries slow the pace of climate change.  REDD+ seeks to reduce emissions from deforestation and forest degradation with an aim to bring benefits to surrounding communities.  Communities are now being sensitized as a part of the introduction of this mechanism. News Five traveled to Las Cuevas Research Station in the Chiquibul on Thursday for the opening of a two-day sensitization workshop. Here’s the story.


Andrea Polanco, Reporting

Forests make up a big part of Belize’s terrain and they also play a vital role in regulating the climate and are critical to addressing the impact of climate change. The value of a forest to slow down climate change is seen in its ability reduce emissions from deforestation and degradation and enhance carbon stocks. So, a mechanism called REDD+ seeks to tap into the value of forests. The method compensates countries to protect their forests. But in order for it to work, indigenous communities that live around or inside forested areas must understand how REDD+ works. So, in Belize, the national climate change office is working to raise the profile of this incentive based programme. The west is one of the three regions where REDD+ is expected to be implemented. So, on Thursday REDD+ Belize opened a two-day immersion and sensitization programme for a group of students.


Eduardo Reyes

Eduardo Reyes, Director REDD+ (Belize)

“It is just to feel the experience of the forest; feel the experience of what it really means other than just talking. Because most of the people are just talking about the forest but they don’t get the experience to enjoy it. So, it is to share the information about what we have achieved in this readiness process in Belize and to start engaging them at an early stage because they are the next generation. It is not a point where you create capacity among us and then leave the next generation without really knowing. So, we want to engage them because they will take over sooner or later.  So, the idea is that they start to get the concept of REDD+ because many people are talking about it and we want to ensure they understand and this is part of what the readiness process of REDD+ has to do. It is part of our mandate and this is one of many events that will come with the students.”


The talk of climate change, carbon stocks, and forest degradation can be technical, so to simplify it for students, facilitator Tanya Santos Neal has localized the topics inside the classroom and provide them with field activities for them to learn firsthand about these complex topics in the context of REDD+ in Belize/

Tanya Santos Neal

Tanya Santos Neal, Facilitator

“We are trying to break it down into language that the young people can understand, bringing it into the context of their daily lives. When we talk about climate change in your community, this is what it means, you will see more frequency of floods; higher intensity of floods, for example. Or they will be seeing drought – some of them may be children of farmers or have other family who are farmers and are suffering some of the other consequences. So, we even brought into light the eutrophication that took place in the New River. So, it is bringing it into real examples that they can relate to on a daily basis and also including what they themselves can do to mitigate those effects of climate change.  We have a field trip; we are going out to one of the sustainably managed areas here in the Chiquibul to see how sustainable management occurs in the forest. They will see all the work that goes into establishing the plans which involve tree inventories, targeting which trees which will be left as seed trees for future crops. They will see the entire chain of how the logging occurs in a sustainable manner from the planning to the falling and then the production of good quality, soundly produced timber in Belize.”


Forty-students, from four high-schools in the Cayo districts, are participating in a number of activities during the two-day workshop. These students are members of school environmental clubs who are hoping to use the sessions to raise awareness in their schools and wider communities.


Terrylee Arana

Terrylee Arana, Student, St. Ignatius High School

“I am hoping to learn more about climate change and I want to carry out a message to the people of Belize to teach them about what climate change is. For those who don’t know what climate change is, climate change is the change in the expected pattern of the weather and I also want Belize to know it is simple like just picking up a piece of garbage on the side of the road that you can change the nation of Belize.”


Eibiley Duque

Eibiley Duque, Student, Our Lady of Mount Carmel High School

“My club and I are here because we want to learn more about how we as youth can make an impact in the environment or community and how we can set an example to teach others to teach others to follow. I want to learn more about climate change and we want to let people know what is going on around the world.”


The Central American Community Agro-forestry Indigenous and Peasant Coordinating Association is helping Belize to get ready for REDD+, as one of the implementers on the ground. Representative James Mesh says that they expect to support the environmental clubs to push the conservation message of REDD+.


James Mesh, Belize Representative, ACICAFOC

“We would go to their schools and follow up with the leaders of the school and the students to see if information was passed on. Or sometimes they themselves would call meetings and then they would pass on the information to other students in the schools. So, we come and follow up and to see in whichever way we can support them later on then we continue doing that.”


Reporting for News Five, I’m Andrea Polanco.


Saint Ignatius High School, Sacred Heart College, Mount Carmel High School and Mopan Technical High School participated in the workshop which concluded today.

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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