At the top of the newscast, you heard about the demolition of hundreds of acres of cane fields ready for harvesting and about drilling in the Sarstoon Temash National Park. Well, there is one more irritant; this time in the west where illegal loggers from Guatemala continue to extract precious woods well within Belizean territory. In our last newscast on Tuesday night, the executive director of Friends of Conservation, Rafael Manzanero alerted the nation that the loggers had advanced up to ten kilometers inside the Chiquibul Forest Reserve. We asked Manzanero what steps are recommended to curb the illegal activities.
Raphael Manzanero, Executive Director, Friends of Conservation & Development
“We believe that for certain one of the biggest challenges is the amount of people on the ground, in other words the number of enforcements, you know agency personnel operating in the Chiquibul Forest, you know is still very, very limited and even the Chiquibul Forest alone, we are looking at some forty- five kilometers at the Western Border and so the point is how much can really be done in terms of a very limited amount of staff on the ground. And so one of the interventions is for us to have more booths, in order words more man power on the ground to be able to monitor, to be able to conduct surveillance and particularly to be able to uphold the regulations in this case the forest act, the national park systems act, the wild life protection act, because that is what is really the main environmental crises and crimes committed out there as a result of illegal logging and wild life extraction and other things that are taking place like extraction of xate and all of that so it’s really enforcement out there and as well as conservation posts to monitor the hot spot areas.”
The illegal logging has been going on for years, but it is well known that a lack of resources has limited military patrols in the area.