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#413757 - 08/12/11 03:33 PM Rosewood extraction in Southern Belize
Marty Offline
The issue of Rosewood extraction in Southern Belize has been exciting public opinion in the Toledo District for some weeks now.

The Maya Leaders' alliance issued a statement today saying that there is, quote, "rampant extraction of this very rare species with no intervention from the relevant authorities including the Forest Department."

A week ago, the Maya Leaders Alliance and the Toledo Alcaldes Association met with Chief Forest Officer Wilber Sabido and his Deputy Marcelo Windsor.

They say Sabido committed to cease the stamping of all logs as of Monday August 7th.

But now they say that logs continue to be stamped without permits or licenses.

They say Sabido has stopped taking their calls and containers were being loaded with Rosewood up to yesterday.

Of course, the wrinkle in this is that Land Rights Case where the Ministry of Natural Resources is limited form making stipulations upon land considered to be maya communal property. So - the mayan leaders alliance claims that Forestry personell have been telling the Maya people that it is their lands and therefore they can do whatever they want including extract Rose wood without a license. The leader says business owners then come and buy or credit these logs at anywhere from $3.50 -3.75 per board foot - with the Forest Officer who then stamps these logs.

So what do the mayan leaders have to say about their own people facilitating the rosewood plunder? We quote: "our communities have been manipulated to leap for this rash economic opportunity and in these ever challenging times - How can we blame them?" End quote.

The release does close by saying that, quote, "Finally, we encourage the Maya people to stand up and realize that you are selling out too cheap."

We could not reach the Chief Forestry Officer for comment.

Channel 7


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#413761 - 08/12/11 03:39 PM Re: Rosewood extraction in Southern Belize [Re: Marty]
Marty Offline

Illegal logging in Toledo; but where is the Forest Department?

While concern grows about the frequent incursions by Guatemalan loggers in the Chiquibul, villagers in the Toledo District are also reportedly extracting rosewood without permits. The Maya Leaders Alliance and the Toledo Alcaldes Association told News Five at the end of July that there was rampant extraction of rosewood in the south and they were seeking the intervention of the Forest Department. Well, two weeks later nothing has changed. According to a release issued today by the Maya Leaders Alliances, a meeting was held with the Chief Forest Officer last Thursday and he promised to arrange for a scouting team and check points to intercept the illegal movement of rosewood. It was also agreed that an order would be made to cease the stamping of all logs as of August seventh. But not only have those promises gone unfulfilled, the MLA says it has also been unable to contact the Chief Forest Officer since the meeting. The MLA claims that the illegal lumber continues to be stamped by forest officers and transported out of the Toledo District. As recently as this past Wednesday, they photographed rosewood being loaded into trucks in Jacintoville. The alliance believes that the villagers are being encouraged by government officials to extract the lumber for export to China in what it calls a “social and environmental injustice.” It says, however, that it remains open to partnering with the relevant authorities to curb the illegal logging.

Channel 5


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#413764 - 08/12/11 03:44 PM Re: Rosewood extraction in Southern Belize [Re: Marty]
Marty Offline

MAYA LEADERS ALLIANCE SAYS OFFICIALS NOT HELPING TO STOP ILLEGAL LOGGING


The extraction of Rosewood and its exportation out of the Toledo District remains a concern. The Maya Leaders Alliance issued a release saying that on Thursday August 4 they met with Chief Forest Officer Wilber Sabido and second in command Marcelo Windsor. The Alliance says at that meeting it was agreed that illegal logging in Toledo is a common concern and the urgency to forge partnership to stop illegal activities was a priority for both Forest Department and the Maya of Toledo. The release goes on to the say the Chief Forest Officer committed to work immediately with the Alliance to send out a scouting team and to begin to place check points on the roads to intercept the movement of these unstamped lumber and committed to placing an order to cease the stamping of all logs as of Monday August 7th. According to the Alliance these commitments have not been upheld as the Forest Department continues stamping of logs with no regard for the fact that they have no permits or licenses. At the same time, Forest officer Rivas continues to facilitate this illegal operation with no regard for the laws of Belize and less so for the fragile ecology of the forest of Toledo. The Alliance says they hope to expose the corruption in the entire illegal logging operation. Meanwhile correspondent Paul Mahung filed this report earlier today.

Paul Mahung reporting...
The ongoing daily cutting of Rosewood trees by many Toledo inhabitants, selling of the cut product to local buyers in Toledo and frequent exportation of the Rosewood logs out this district is a growing issue as expressed recently on radio and television by concerned individuals in Toledo. Love News in Toledo was able to meet with a family member of one of the local buyers who resides in Jacintoville located eight miles out Punta Gorda on the Southern Highway. Gerald Williams spoke of his family’s involvement in the current rosewood business operation in Toledo.

Gerald Williams – Son sells Rosewood
“I am the father of Rodwell Williams; my son is the one who does the Rosewood business. He buys from almost all the villages in the Toledo District, he stacks it in the yard, the forest comes and stamps it and then he re-sell it to somebody else from Orange Walk. The person from Orange Walk brings their truck here, pick it up and take it. Before Rodwell ever bring any Rosewood from any village he has to inform the Forest Officer that he is bringing some and then the Forest Officer gives him the okay. In the past couple of weeks the Forest Department wasn’t releasing any Rosewood because of some problem and within those two weeks, people have been calling me from the villages and saying Mr. Williams I want to speak to your son; I say my son is not here but how can I help? He said Mr. Williams I have a few piece of Rosewood I want to sell it bad because I need to buy books and clothes for my children soon attending school and this is the only way we can get a little income by selling our Rosewood. Finally in the last couple of days the Forest Department has given my son permission to pick up some.

Paul Mahung - Reporter
How often does the truck or containers come from Orange Walk and how much Rosewood fits in one of the container?

Gerald Williams – Son sells Rosewood
“I would say a little over 9,000 feet in a container, I would say almost every 10 days or thereabouts two or three containers move from Punta Gorda. My son is not the only one who sells Rosewood, you have many other buyers just like my son, represents other people, buy it and just sell it to other people.”

As Williams was in the process of the Wednesday afternoon explanation and account of his son’s involvement of the ongoing Rosewood business, two large container trucks were at the location in Jacintovlle as work continued in loading another shipment of rosewood with a destination to Orange Walk and exportation destination abroad. Love News thereafter caught up with Toledo Forest Officer Charles Rivas who spoke of the Rosewood situation.

Charles Rivas – Forest Officer
“This situation here in Toledo with Rosewood they are blaming the Forestry Department about the cutting of Rosewood. We from the Forestry Department cannot go into any of the villages due to the communal land rights lawsuit that the MLA made out with the Government of Belize. I had explained to many of the villages that we cannot stamp any lumber for them within their villages. I cannot stop these people from cutting any Rosewood or any type of lumber within their village. I can only apprehend lumber that comes out without any authority on the highway or checkpoints, that is all I can do. I cannot help them in the village or nowhere else. Everyone is blaming the Forestry Department that we should go into the village and stop these people from cutting lumber, how can we go in there, we are not the alcaldes and chairmen of these villages. The chairmen and alcaldes of these villages gave their villagers permission to cut lumber in the village and these people want to sell their lumber. They in turn behind our back sell the persons who want to buy it but we don’t know from exactly which village the lumber is coming."

Paul Mahung - Reporter
There are a number of local buyers here who are gathering the Rosewood and from what I gave gathered is that the Rosewood is being shipped out of the Toledo District. Do you know here the Rosewood is going to and can you account that the Forestry Department knows about the Rosewood?

Charles Rivas – Forest Officer
“I believe the Rosewood is being exported to some other country. The Forestry Department issues export permits when the lumber leaves from here. We down here collect our royalties for these lumber, these lumbers do not leave Punta Gorda without royalty being paid.”

As it appears, the Rosewood business including extraction, selling and buying locally in Toledo and Rosewood exportation out Toledo continues.

LOVEFM


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#413828 - 08/13/11 04:24 PM Re: Rosewood extraction in Southern Belize [Re: Marty]
Marty Offline

Maya Leaders Alliance allege corruption in rosewood extraction

The Maya Leaders Alliance has been investigating a situation of illegal logging in Toledo. It has documented the incidences and has met with the Forest Department about putting an end to the rape of rosewood from forests surrounding Mayan Villages. There are two situations that the MLA is facing. Firstly, the extraction of the lumber is being carried out by their own and Cristina Coc, the Program Coordinator for the MLA, says that corruption has allowed the situation to continue.

Via Phone: Cristina Coc, Program Coordinator, Maya Leaders Alliance

Cristina Coc

“We want to focus our attention on the corruption that is involved. We have known for some time now as we’ve done our investigation, we have known that department officials, forest department officials, other political officials along with local leaders have been involved with the extraction of rosewood illegally.”

Jose Sanchez

“Have you been able to document this?”

Via Phone: Cristina Coc

“We have documented. We actually would like to send you a video documentation of how rampant the situation is, how much logs are leaving and how and when they are leaving. It gives an idea of who is involved. We are at a point where we feel disappointed to know that none of these commitments by the forest department have been upheld. In fact August seventh has come and gone and there has been no order. On Wednesday, August seventh, we went out there because we noticed and observed numerous containers being loaded all the way to the brim with rosewood in plain sight and these containers were ready to be trucked out of Toledo. We are concerned about that because we felt that we had come to an agreement with the forest department to halt this operation. In fact, to the contrary because forest has not increased its patrol on the road, neither have they coordinated with us to form joint patrols. They have not created since that time a single check point. It is so disappointing to the point that Mister Sabido has not even returned a single one of our many calls to his office since the meeting on August fourth. And I think it is time to say enough is enough. We are tired of being played for fool and we will not sit idly and watch as our forests are degraded. We will not sit here and watch as our forests are desecrated. We will not sit here and do nothing when we know we have a social and environmental responsibility to fulfill for the country and our people. So we are calling and we continue to communicate and we want to communicate this against to the chief forest officer; we remain committed to forming partnership to collectively control and monitor logging activities in Toledo and we will fully support him in overcoming whatever pressures he is confronting that want him to turn a blind eye to this illegal operation. We recognize that when the forest department says their hands are tied that they mean that there are directions given from higher up. But we also know that we have a social obligation and we have an environmental obligation and we want to go on record and say that the Mayan people are willing to manage their lands properly. We don’t want anybody to come back and tell us that we cannot manage our land.”

Channel 5


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#413979 - 08/16/11 03:05 PM Re: Rosewood extraction in Southern Belize [Re: Marty]
Marty Offline

Conservation Group says rosewood is facing extinction

And though the next story is not classified as handling stolen goods, residents of Toledo would like someone to be charged for the illegal cutting and shipment of rosewood out of the District. The illegal harvesting was overlooked for months, until the Maya Leaders Alliance recently brought the issue to the forefront. Today the Ya’axché Conservation Trust joined the conversation, as executive director Lisel Alamilla, was a guest on this morning’s Open Your Eyes. Alamilla referred to a government report released in 2005, which declared that Rosewood would only be harvested for local use and not for commercial trade since it is threatened with extinction.

Lisel Alamilla, Executive Director, Ya’axché Conservation Trust

“So I want to know how it went from 2005 where we were saying—because it doesn’t take a year for a tree to grow to the size that it can be harvested—so from reporting in 2005 that you cannot trade rosewood, how now you’re allowing this rampant logging that is going on. We get different reports but just to be very conservative, that you are seeing that an average you’re getting three forty foot containers leaving the district every week.”

Marleni Cuellar

Lisel Alamill

“Three?”

Lisel Alamilla

“Three and that is being conservative because this is what we see during the day. This is happening at night. It’s a big—I mean this isn’t customary practices where people have walkie talkies and headlights and trucks going in. what is going on? The minute that you’re doing this under the cover of night, it screams that somebody knows that something is happening that is illegal. So I think it’s irresponsible in any which way you look at it to blame it on any kind of Maya land rights case because this is about our resources as a country.”

According to Alamilla, Ya’axché has proposed to do research on Rosewood and the Chief Forest Officer has indicated that he would endorse the initiative.

Channel 5


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