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Guatemalans Destroyed 10,000 Acres Of Belize's Forest Reserve

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Author Topic: Guatemalans Destroyed 10,000 Acres Of Belize's Forest Reserve  (Read 13 times)
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« on: December 21, 2008, 08:21:05 am »

                          Guatemalans Destroyed 10,000 Acres of Belize's Forest Reserve

December 19, 2008

All this week we’ve been telling you about the situation in Jalacte where a Guatemalan businessman has put up a storage container clearly inside Belizean territory. That is a particularly brazen and offensive incursion because it is in plain sight for all to see. But what about those that happen deep inside the jungle? The Chiquibul Forest Reserve is an area that’s consistently under pressure from those crossing the border illegally. There are over 50 Guatemalan communities adjoining the forest reserve which also contains the Caracol Archaeological Park. Encroachments are common and the Friends of Conservation and Development based in San Jose Succotz co manages the national park. It’s got so many hotspots and President Rafael Manzanero told us what the challenges and pressures are like.

Rafael Manzanero, President FCD
“At this particular time of the year I must say that we do have a lot of xateros in terms of xate extraction which has been all throughout the year. In terms of the milpa incursions, it is still an ongoing issue, particularly right now you know it being a couple of weeks of dry season, there have already been burnings occurring along the borderline.”

Jules Vasquez,
Along the borderline, how far in Belize’s territory have those incursions extended?

Rafael Manzanero,
“In certain areas for example the Caracol Archaeological Reserve which is right within the Chiquibul Forest, there would be incursions up to, I would say probably 3 to 4 kilometers within our national territory.”

Jules Vasquez,
Why is it that we are unable to eject these people?

Rafael Manzanero,
“Well that’s really a good question. Certainly I believe a lot of it is really because we do not really have any presence along that border. In other words, people, even though they know it is already in Belize that they are doing their activities, they would still take the opportunity of coming in and that is what they do.”

Jules Vasquez,
How many acres would you say we have lost in that reserve or that have been under production or are under production?

Rafael Manzanero,
“In the Chiquibul Forest or the Chiquibul National Park in this particular case I would say and based on satellite imagery over a period of twenty years, because this has been an evolving process, we have lost 7,000 acres of virgin forest. In the Caracol area which is another protected area which is located along the border line, there has been over 3,000 acres that have already been lost. But primarily I would say probably about 12 communities are practically involved in terms of extraction of products. As how you mentioned, yes, they see a resource which over the years has been availed to them. It is important to note they have become like much more aggressive because they no longer feel at will that they can just come in and do whatsoever they want. I would say now we need to do as a country is to be much more staunch and much more bold in terms of the demonstrating that indeed this is our country and we are going to protect it.”

As Manzanero alluded to the threat of danger is constantly present and very real, so his park rangers have started getting their own training in firearms use.

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