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Nov 10, 2022

Belize’s Mangrove Protection Lauded at COP27

There are a number of additional activities in which members of the Belize delegation will be engaged. But apart from the negotiations, meetings and side events, bilateral meetings are equally very important for things that Belize can gain – be that project funding, capacity building, equipment or for the implementation of the national determined contributions. His first day on the ground in Egypt and Minister of Sustainable Development, Climate Change and Disaster Risk Management, Orlando Habet, hit the ground running. Ahead of a delegation brief, Minister Habet was a panelist at the Nature Positive pavilion where the discussion was about mangroves and the important ecological role that they play.

 

Duane Moody, Reporting

They are often among the first things to be cleared from a seaside property for development, but mangroves play a critical role in the health of a country. That was a separate discussion today at the United Nation’s Climate Change Conference that has been ongoing in Egypt for almost two weeks now.  It was hosted by the Pew Charitable Trusts, an independent non-profit organization, founded in 1948 which believes that nature-based solutions can help fight climate change.

 

Stacy Baez

Dr. Stacy Baez, Pew Charitable Trusts

“Mangroves are coastal forests – really important to people and biodiversity. They buffer shorelines from storms. Belize just had a very impactful storm recently; mangrove helped with some of that storm surge. They provide food for people, a critical ecosystem for fisheries. And so we supported the government in their ambition to not only understand how much carbon was held – because mangroves are able to draw down earth-warming carbon dioxide and lock that carbon away into soils and that carbon in the soil can remain there for millennia if the mangrove forest is untouched.”

 

The organization has helped countries like Belize with establishing its nationally determined contributions that were presented last year. And so, today, among the panelists were representatives from Seychelles and Belize.  Minister of Sustainable Development, Climate Change and Disaster Risk Management, Orlando Habet says that his ministry understands the value of Belize’s mangrove forest.

 

Orlando Habet

Orlando Habet, Minister of Sustainable Development, Climate Change & Disaster Risk Management

“That report has not totally come out as yet, but they already have an indication of what is there. I think they are finalizing that and for Belize it is very important because what they found out is that we have plenty of carbon from mangroves which can also be applied to our NDCs, but also important because it gives us an indication of why it is that we need to do the type of protection that we do.”

 

In Belize, mangroves fall under the forestry department and the government has committed to the preservation and conservation of another six thousand hectares of mangroves by 2025, as well as in the reforestation of mangroves. Doctor Stacy Baez says that Belize is a global leader for mangrove science.

 

Dr. Stacy Baez

“Belize probably has the most comprehensive carbon analysis for its mangrove science. Typically, mangrove carbon is looked at in the trees because it is quite resource intensive to understand how much carbon is held in the soil, but this assessment looked at both the biomass in the trees as well as the soil carbon and ninety percent of the carbon held in mangroves is locked away in the soil.

Belize in fact could train another nation to undertake a similar analysis. The capacity is there and the expertise is there so going forward Belize has the skillset to implement that nationally determined contribution.”

 

Minister Habet says that the country will be seeking to partner with the organization for another study that involves seagrass.

 

Orlando Habet

“We have now looked at mangroves, but we are now looking at seagrass – what type of seagrass, the extent of seagrass and how much carbon we are actually sequestering from seagrass. So those are opportunities for both the coastal side that falls under our ministry, but also for blue carbon because we have the Blue Economy [Ministry] that’s looking at that also.”

 

Reporting for News Five from COP27 in Sharm el Sheikh, Egypt, I’m Duane Moody.


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