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Dec 10, 2021

Chiquibul Could Become World Heritage Site

The Chiquibul Forest Reserve and other dense jungle spaces in Belize have been areas of contention for Belizean law enforcement authorities and Guatemalan encroachers from time to time. Often enough, Friends for Conservation and Development, accompanied by Belize Defense Force and Immigration personnel apprehend illegal loggers, poachers, gold-panners and cattle ranchers. Now there a proposal by Government to re-classify the western Maya Mountains protected areas as the Chiquibul-Mountain Pine Ridge Landscape Conservation Trust, and to nominate the Chiquibul Forest as Belize’s second World Heritage Site. The announcement came on the occasion of the Friends for Conservation and Development’s twenty-second Annual General Meeting last Saturday. Guest Speaker at the event was the Minister of Sustainable Development, Orlando Habet. FCD’s Executive Director, Rafael Manzanero explained what the new approach looks like for the management of the vast expanses of forest.


Rafael Manzanero

Rafael Manzanero, Executive Director, FCD

“He did inform the audience that indeed the Government is moving toward that manifesto goal and objective of looking at a reclassification of the Chiquibul Maya Mountains Landscape Conservation Trust, which is one of those that we have also been recommending for quite some years. That would really mean in a way, Marion a consolidation of efforts in the area. That includes the Mountain Pine Ridge, the Chiquibul, and also there is the Caracol complex, which is a part of that. So that would be one of those sorts of consolidations. There has been a recommendation also that’s been given for quite some years, I must say. The matter is how to really provide a governance framework and to define the roles and responsibilities. For us, it would basically also be able to give us a platform for us to operate at a much better scale of the landscape, which is also critically important, in terms of management for us. What it really means is how do we better consolidate, which basically means amalgamate efforts that are already there to ensure then that there is a more joint effort of cooperation in terms of management. Caracol, as you all know, is under the management of NICH. There is a patrol system ongoing there with the Belize Defence Force and FCD at Valentin Observation Post. The question now becomes how is that managed all together as one of those sections that is from the broader picture. So it’s consolidation of management. What does it really mean for management in the Mountain Pine Ridge? Well that is under the Forest Department. It doesn’t mean that FCD will entirely manage that area. It basically means doing, I would hope, a more holistic plan of management instead of different pieces or piecemeal that it is really more at the landscape level of bringing more stakeholders and agencies and NGOs.”

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