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Jul 19, 2013

The Chiquibul symposium speaks of wonders and threats

And from rosewood to the symposium on the Chiquibul National Park held in Belize City by the Friends for Conservation and Development…it signifies the launch of an intensive campaign to raise countrywide awareness of the value of this little known and understood mother lode of natural resources. The primary target of this focused campaign is the private sector, which is being asked to step in and shoulder some of the burden of protecting and monitoring the park which is roughly the size of the Corozal District. There was barely standing room this morning as representatives of the public and private sector and pertinent organizations came out in numbers. Mike Rudon was at the symposium and has the story.


Mike Rudon, Reporting

At the very start of the symposium this morning, Minister of Forests Lisel Alamilla set the tone for the session with a dose of financial reality where the protection of areas like the Chiquibul National Park are concerned.


Lisel Alamilla, Minister of Forests

“The optimal amount of money needed to manage Belize’s protected areas system is 40 million dollars a year. And the only contribution that the government of Belize makes in managing these protected areas is through PACT. The Protected Areas Conservation Trust that was set up more than sixteen year ago that may people from across the work come and are struck by the commitment that we as a people has made. To financing protected areas.”


And that stark reality is why the purpose behind the symposium is so critical.


Lisel Alamilla

Lisel Alamilla

“I would hope that we would find a way to engage the private sector. I think that is the main reason why the symposium was organized to really educate people outside of the conservation community to understand that this that we are facing is not really just the responsibility of the conservation organization and government.”

David Jones, Commander, BDF

“There is a need for all the stakeholders to get together: the government has to be involved, F.C.D., forestry, customs, immigration, in particular the Belize Defense Force because we will provide escort to any event that occurs out there. But there needs to be a strategy where we sit down and decide what do we want o achieve, how do we want o achieve it and then we need to get together and decide all the resources that we need.”


To open the eyes of those at the symposium, the first business of the day was breaking down the resources within the Chiquibul into dollars and cents, a lot of dollars and cents.


Percival Cho

Percival Cho, Forest Ecologist, Forest Department

“We Belizeans we generally don’t understand the material the xate, the gold, the timber. So I valued that and we said it worth about 2 billion Belize dollars that’s like our G.D.P. Now there is the natural value of the Chiquibul, the water services, the clean air and so forth. Most Belizeans don’t know that we get most of our water from the Chiquibul. It flows out of the Chiquibul into the Macal, the Mopan and then the Belize River. So value that as well and it’s not a total value because really and truly you can’t put a value on life and water is life. Wee estimated that it’s valued about 1.3 billion dollars if you could sell all the water that comes out of the Chiquibul.”   Executive Director of FCD Rafael Manzanero gave presentations on the threats to the Chiquibul National Park and the way forward – and putting it simply, he mirrored the words of Brigadier General David Jones by stating that the most critical step forward will be the formulation of a concrete strategy.

David Jones

David Jones

“Whatever the government can provide we have it at the moment. There is need for more but in regards of the stakeholders they need to assist us get to the table with us, sit down and decide what we want to do and then start to do it but first I think we need to come up with a plan.”

Rafael Manzanero, Executive Director, FCD

“I think what is becoming very clear is there is an entire set of recommendations which have been done over a couple of weeks or months even. And more recently I think we are coming back again to revisit some of those key recommendations but I feel that one of the key aspect outlined was the concept of developing it as a strategy. In other words to bring up all of those particular recommendations and she how they really basically fits and how we start and how we are basically able to do it on the ground.”  


That strategy will likely include revisiting the management of the park so that resources there can be properly utilized to promote long term sustainability.


Rafael Manzanero

Rafael Manzanero

“If some parts of the park must be changed in terms of category in terms of use and utilization. Then we will have to do that if it’s really for the long term sustainability. We are now proposing to the government of Belize and the forestry department to look at how do we get one or two communities from Cayo or from somewhere else to come in and exploit the xate. It can be done but once we have the mechanism in place. Gold is already being extracted in the Chiquibul; its already being done. And there is a logging company that is already extracting the logs in the Chiquibul; a Belizean company. So I feel that it can actually go more but yet it will still require the monitory program and the regulatory agencies.”


Today there were discussions after each presentation followed by a question and answer segment. There was full participation by the private sector including the Chamber of Commerce. Mike Rudon for News Five.


At the close of the symposium, community activist, Wil Maheia noted that there are more resources spent on the gangs at George Street than to protect the Chiquibul.

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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1 Response for “The Chiquibul symposium speaks of wonders and threats”

  1. venus says:

    Finally someone has heard my cry and destroyed those crops, only way to discourage land clearing. Certain it was not the minister of foreign affairs. Another 2,000 acres will be cleared next year in February only a bit further into the Jungle. We need a chopper desperately to monitor this situation. It is time to take the BDF out of the jungle of Belize City and put them back into the jungle along our border. By doing so we will also be assisting our farmers, as these BDF will also be monitoring the fruits coming into Belize thereby lessening the chance of fruit fly coming into Belize.

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