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Dec 11, 2020

BNCF awards $80K in grant funding!

The Belize Nature Conservation Foundation has awarded two more grants in its 2020 projects cycle. Two NGOs that co-manage sites in the Belize National Protected Areas System were awarded funds to strengthen the management of their sites. A brief virtual ceremony was held on Thursday to acknowledge the handing over to the awardees. News Five joined the online session to find out more about how the funds will help to advance conservation work in Belize. Here’s the story:


Andrea Polanco, Reporting

The Belize Nature Conservation Foundation awarded eighty thousand dollars in grant funds to two registered terrestrial management organizations. The monies are to be used for the management of protected areas in Belize. Chairperson of the BNCF Amanda Burgos Acosta presented the grants in a virtual ceremony on Thursday:


Amanda Burgos Acosta, Chair, BNCF

Amanda Burgos Acosta

“The focus of the grant is getting the work done as I call it, so your general management of the protection. So, we have education, equipment, training, research and enforcement. So, there are various fields in which the work is happening in and all of these grants cover one or two of these various areas.”


The Friends for Conservation and Development received thirty-nine thousand dollars to implement a water quality monitoring project in the jungles of the Chiquibul over the next year. According to the FCD, they want to find out what’s the condition of the Chiquibul River which makes up a significant part of the Greater Belize River Watershed. Executive Director of the FCD Raphael Manzanero says that there is no data on how illicitgold panning, illegal logging, and agricultural deforestation done by Guatemalans have on water in the forest – but they also don’t know how a sanctioned activity like gold mining impacts the water quality:


Raphael Manzanero, Executive Director, FCD

“This refers to the gold mining. You would know that there is a concession that is operating in the Chiquibul National Park for the extraction of gold. Mindful that gold concessions were granted for the last forty years or so in the Chiquibul so this is nothing new but all of that still has not been conducted along with a systematic water quality testing program. Having said that, then we don’t really know what the condition of the water is. I think we can deduct – I think we as co-managers are concerned because there is a whole diversity of issues because we don’t really have the science and we don’t have the data. So, this project that is being funded by BNCF is to institute a water quality monitoring system on the headwaters that would include the streams and the rivers particularly up in the upper limits of the Chiquibul Forest.”


The second NGO to be awarded thirty-nine thousand dollars is Ya’axche Conservation Trust. Their project is called the ‘Remotely Piloted Aerial Systems’ which will use specialized survey technology and drone equipment to improve forest monitoring. The issue of deforestation in forest reserves and buffer zones has worsen over the years – and so this grant will help Ya’axche to determine the extent of these clearings and they will use the images and data to strengthen the management of three protected areas – Golden Stream Corridor Preserve; Bladen Nature Reserve and the Maya Mountain North Forest Reserve.


Said Gutierrez, Protected Areas Program Director, Ya’axche Conservation Trust

Said Gutierrez

“On our ranger teams for them to be able to collect the data in the field, apparently Ya’axche doesn’t have any of that capacity. We have hired a GIS specialist and he will be the one to conduct the trainings for us. But our staff on the ground, they have never actually flown a drone so this project will assist us in acquiring a drone and then also training them in using that in coupling the drones with high precision survey instruments for a variety of things including the forest management work. Once you go in and you collect the data and analyze the data, you don’t want to just keep it to yourself, we would like to create a report at the end of this project that we are hoping could become something that other organizations could follow the same approach to see how useful this technology could be in complementing the readily available satellite imagery that we know have several limitations when it come so to accuracy in its resolution.”


The Belize Nature Conservation Foundation was established to provide financial support in research, capacity building, and management of terrestrial protected areas through the Debt for Nature Swap between Government of Belize and Government of the United States. The Protected Areas Conservation Trust is the administrator of the BNCF’s grant service. Up to December of this year, forty-six grants have been awarded to twelve NGOs and community-based organizations to strengthen management of fifteen registered terrestrial protected areas.


Andrea Polanco reporting for News Five.

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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