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Mar 16, 2023

Are There Plans to De-Reserve Machaka Reserve?

Oscar Requeña

Are there plans to de-reserve the Machaka Reserve in southern Belize? The simple answer is yes. The Machaka Forest Reserve is located in Toledo and is situated nearby Laguna and Dump community and extends to new Mabilha and Aguacate Villages. Today, Toledo West Area Representative Oscar Requeña confirmed to the media that he had requested the de-reservation of the area to provide land to his constituents. But as it would appear that plan is not going to be easy.  Requeña explains. 


Oscar Requeña, Area Representative, Toledo West

“What I can say to you is that I am the area representative for Toledo West and as the representative we have young Belizeans and we also have senior citizens who don’t own a house lot, who don’t have a place on which to build their homes. So they come to me and they said, “Minister we want you to help us to find a piece of land; we want a lot.”  And I have to be very proactive; I have to ensure that I listen to my people and find a way to resolve that. So what I did, I approached the Minister of Sustainable Development, the Honourable Landy Habet as well as the Deputy Prime Minister, the Minister of Natural Resources and said, “Gentlemen, here is the situation – we need to see where we can locate some land, given that most of the lands are currently under the communal land system. We have to find a way where we can help to address the concerns of my constituents.” And subsequent to that, there was a cabinet paper that was taken to cabinet for the de-reservation of a portion of that reserve to make lots available. And we have been pursuing that process; unfortunately, we have met some roadblocks because you know Laguna is saying this area belongs to us and Yemeri Grove is also saying that this area belongs to us. So certainly we have to continue the dialogue and find some middle ground so that ultimately, while we understand and respect the ruling of the court, we also called upon our communities and our leaders to also understand that our people have needs and we have to find a way to address those needs.”

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