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#382892 - 06/25/10 11:22 PM Is The Forestry Department Turning a Blind eye?
Short Offline
Is The Forestry Department Turning a Blind eye?

Dear Editor,

Please give me space in your newspaper to bring to the attention of your readers a matter which is important to all Belizeans. In last weekend’s edition of your newspaper, some brave and proud UB students ’spilled the beans’ on the destruction occurring in the Mountain Pine Ridge caused by unsustainable logging practices. By exposing the raping of our natural resources, the letter also brings into question the level of corruption occurring in the Forestry Department.

If your readers will recall, over the past years there have been a sustained assault on the Forestry Department in both the printed and televised media. The question is how is it possible that a government agency can be dragged through the media so often in a bad light? The answer that I have found is that the rank of the Forestry Department is riddled with corruption from top to bottom.

Recently, residents of the San Jose village have been complaining of xateros stealing xate leaves from their land and calling upon the Forestry Department to do something. How can a misguided and ineffective organization do anything to help? A credible source has mentioned that there are no officers within the Forestry Department willing to go on patrols in the jungle to protect our natural heritage. However, officers of that department are more than willing to issue logging licenses which destroy our environment. Is the Forestry Department turning a blind eye to the destruction it is causing and yet unwilling to remedy it? Why is the Chief Forestry Officer not able to do anything about the mess his department is creating?

Going back to the logging in the Mountain Pine Ridge, I have been following the situation closely and so far there have been no attempts by the Forestry Department to visit the area and stop the destruction. Perhaps by providing lunch for the officer who signed the license, the logger has guaranteed himself immunity? Why is the Forestry Office taking away thatch leaves from poor Mayas and letting them rot in the sun, and yet they turn a blind eye to the destruction in the Mountain Pine Ridge? I am sure that people in the conservation field know the answer to these questions.

I call upon your readers to continue to apply pressure on the Forestry Department so that changes may occur in the ranks and finally the corruption which is destroying our natural resources may go away or at least decrease. Something has to be done about this situation as we Belizeans cannot continue to give away our resources to Guatemalans. We cannot sit by while the Forestry Department continues to de-reserve our Protected Areas as is occurring this moment. We the poor people need a change and it may start with a new organization like a statutory board which can manage our trees, wildlife and xate responsibly. I call upon the Minister and the authorities to do something to fix the Forestry Department.


John Mesh

Live and let live

#382893 - 06/26/10 08:37 AM Re: Is The Forestry Department Turning a Blind eye? [Re: Short]
Katie Valk Offline
I agree, even though the article is politically motivated and the Forest Dept (not Forestry Dept) unchanged much whether under UDP or PUP. I know the area in the MPR discussed above intimately and walked it a few weeks ago to witness the damage. Thus this volley of blame, when all the Forest Dept has to do is follow the excellant management plan in place for the reserve and the MPR will continue to be a great source for recreation, lumber and our watershed.
Belize based travel specialist

#383339 - 07/10/10 04:42 PM Re: Is The Forestry Department Turning a Blind eye [Re: Katie Valk]
Mike Campbell Offline
Unfortunately our government is deaf to all environmental concerns. The DOE and all Forest included are only lapdogs to the government and developers and serve no real function except to rubber stamp what ever their bosses in the GOB want. It is a totally disgraceful situation nationally and is destroying our country. What happened to the time of responsible bureaucrats that were not afraid to stand up for what is right? We have really slid down hill on our environmental problems and the attitudes reflected by the Departments are those of the Ministers and government leaders.

#383341 - 07/10/10 05:13 PM Re: Is The Forestry Department Turning a Blind eye [Re: Mike Campbell]
chris45 Offline
Sadly John, Katie and Mike, all saying the same thing, are all correct. The government IS deaf to all environmental concerns. Deaf? mostly they don't respond even to e mails or letters. And phone calls are met with "oh he's in a meeting".
The cult of secrecy which I shall continue to bang on about (sorry) persists.
I would love to see some pointed questioning on the Morning Show on Love FM, but we hold politicians in such awe they never get put under pressure.
UK readers of this will be familiar with John Humphries on BBC Radio 4 's 'Today' programmme. Humphries asks the questions we want answers to, and is not afraid to press and insist.
some might argue he is disrespectful even rude. BUT HE GETS ANSWERS and if he doesn't everyone knows that is a failure of the politician.
The levels of secrecy (sorry again) in this country are so high as to prevent ordinary people from knowing what is being done in their name.
Small wonder that so many accusations of corruption and vested interest get made. why doesn't the government talk to us? Explain? Or does it fear that we might disagree?
Still, don't worry Mike. at least oil pollution/spills will never be a problem in Belize. DoE has an emergency plan to deal with it. Laugh? I nearly split my sides.....

#383354 - 07/10/10 06:27 PM Re: Is The Forestry Department Turning a Blind eye [Re: chris45]
Mike Campbell Offline
One of my soap box issues is responsible government. To be responsible requires responding and as you know we get no response ever about anything, even our town officials have a hard time getting response from central government. The current tactic of the GOB in the offshore battle is clear. Their first inclination was to just say nothing and the protest would loose steam and they would never have to respond. However the intense public outcry made them feel that they should respond so they trot out Cho and Alegria to tell their lies. Problem is most Belizeans are at least as smart as the politicians they elected and are not so easily fooled.
In the past we have all lived in a politics of fear, afraid to protest too loudly about anything for fear of repercussions from the minister or town board. The non-confrontational nature of our population also let this happen. We have reached a cross roads and must all stand up and do what we can.
We recently rejected an environmentally unsound project that had been approved by the Mayor and DOE. That is a first in San Pedro. The offshore protest must be continued until we get a national referendum and reject it completely. That will also send a clear message to the government that they must be responsive, not just concoct a story and proclaim it so because they are the government.
I am hopeful we will see a changing political landscape in the next national elections. The two parties are so close to the same that they have created an opening for independent candidates that favor environmental development and responsible government.
The government has proven unable to meet our challenges and we the people need to do our bit.

#383355 - 07/10/10 06:31 PM Re: Is The Forestry Department Turning a Blind eye [Re: Mike Campbell]
SP Daily Offline
What is the name of your new party?

#383359 - 07/10/10 06:57 PM Re: Is The Forestry Department Turning a Blind eye [Re: SP Daily]
Mike Campbell Offline
LOL but it is practical to pressure politicians into being more environmentally aware but really about anybody could do as good a job as this bunch or the other bunch. Have a big lottery, whoever gets his number drawn becomes minister, mayor, etc unlikely to be worse than present situation.
Seriously though the loyal opposition party is supposed to be a watchdog for the party in power. Our opposition party does nothing noticeable even though their participation to a healthy process is essential as we have no checks and balances except an active loyal opposition.
It would be great to have another party that reflected other views that I believe to be very popular. I would support such a party for sure.

#383360 - 07/10/10 07:18 PM Re: Is The Forestry Department Turning a Blind eye [Re: SP Daily]
chris45 Offline
Anyone who starts a party based on environmental probity and responsibility will do very well. I think you are right. There is a lot more grass roots support for this than might be apparent. Governments very often underestimate the electorate.
Your comment about the two existing parties is dead right. The main difference in policy is that one party wears blue and the other red. I forget which is which off hand. I care even less.
In fact this is not even politics. Having different color T- shirts is not politics. Its childish nonesense.
You are right about the non-confrontational nature of Belizean people. The sad part about that is that being non-confrontational is one of the things that makes the Belizean people such pleasant company generally. A gentle pleasant well mannered people. Unfortunately it is also their weakness.
Why are politicians here in Belize treated like Gods? They are the servants of the people, yet most act like they are some kind of super-being dispensing favors to their "flock".
People are horrified if a polititian gets put under pressure. Witness the outcry when our PM called a member of the opposition a leper.
Still I suppose if we act like sheep we deserve to be treated like sheep.
I wish you well.

#383372 - 07/11/10 12:10 AM Re: Is The Forestry Department Turning a Blind eye [Re: chris45]
Ecoman Offline
Its time to bring back S.P.U.M remember them .The San Pedro United Movement.

#383381 - 07/11/10 09:20 AM Re: Is The Forestry Department Turning a Blind eye [Re: Ecoman]
Mike Campbell Offline
Never heard of SPUM, Who was it?

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