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#425721 - 12/20/11 01:22 PM Rosewood – The Economic Reality
Marty Online   happy
Rosewood has been in the news for months - and as we close 2011 - it remains at the center of the national discourse, as conservationists in the Toledo district continue to call for a moratorium on logging the precious hardwood, while the Forestry Department continues to ignore them.

Indeed, it is a political quagmire, because, while there are almost certainly, well connected monied interests at the top of the Rosewood pyramid, at the base are villagers from the south who are dirt poor - and - as long as it lasts - rosewood offers them a way up, if not out of poverty.

Here's what some of them had to say last week about Rosewood:..

Jules Vasquez reporting
Here in the village of Sundaywood in the Toledo District, this is ground zero for the rosewood trade. Blocks of the precious, scarce hardwood are loaded into trucks which will take it to PG, and from there it will be bundled up into a container and shipped off - presumably to China. The wood sells for top dollar internationally, but what remains in the community is - by comparison - a pittance, but as the song says, when you've got nothing, you've got nothing to lose.

Mateo Tush - First Alcalde, Sundaywood
"We don't use the Rosewood and where will we get the money from to buy stuff for our children in secondary school. The books, bags, uniform, and donation everything is expensive."

Marcus Coy, Village council Member, Crique Sarco
"No other people coming her to us only the non-governmental organizations like Satiim or Tide. Only them are trying to stop the people of doing this work. The people are not happy because it very hard to live in Toledo, there is no job, nothing to do and we have our children to send to high school."

And that's the refrain that can be heard in many villages - where there's no steady employment:

Marcus Coy, Village council Member, Crique Sarco
"Each community help themselves with the Rosewood."

Apart from work with US Capital Energy, it's the only readily accessible form of employment:

Martin Choco, Permitting Agent - US Capital Energy Ltd.
"The way that we recruit workers is we have the Alcalde and Chairman assisting us in who is available to work for us because at the moment there are cutting Rosewood. So we don't know who is available, so what we do is we work along with them to tell us who is available so we recruit them to work."

Village Chairman, Crique Sarco
"The people are benefiting from it that's the main thing. It's not only in my village but all along the other villages; Sunday Wood, Conejo, Corazon, Otoxha and Dolores. So every is benefitting who is willing to work."

Indeed, the Rosewood venture is so rapacious, that it seems every tree is being cut:

Harvey Sandoval, Barranco Resident
"We do have Rosewood in our area but in the night the poachers they come and they just take it away."

And while it seems like unfettered, wholesale plunder, this village councilor says that there is a caveat

Marcus Coy
"As village council members we mentioned to the people who are doing the logging that they should leave the small ones to let it grow. Only the bigger trees they will cut so that they could cut it later on."

Of course, that's just notional, there's no enforcement, and so, likely, there's no compliance - which means cash rules - and when the trees are depleted, is when it's done:

Village Chairman, Crique Sarco
"This will stop when there are no more trees, we can't say that we will cut until because the trees are limited." In a November letter to the Prime Minister, the Ya'axché conservation trust warned that quote, "this continued exploitation of rosewood for the benefit of only a small minority is no longer acceptable. We have evidence that small trees (less than 20cm in diameter) are now being extracted…..This suggests that rosewood stocks on community lands may have already reached a critical level, and if logging continues at the current rate, it is likely that the species will become locally extinct."

Despite these dire warnings, no moratorium has been effected.

Channel 7


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#426779 - 01/05/12 02:23 PM Re: Rosewood – The Economic Reality [Re: Marty]
Marty Online   happy

Barranco suffers from rosewood harvesting

The rape of forests in Belize for Rosewood continues unabated. One strong environmentalist and proponent for the end of the trade is People’s National Party’s Wil Maheia. Maheia has been personally documenting illegal shipments in the south. He lives in Punta Gorda and recently travelled to Barranco Village in the Toledo District. Maheia found that the trucks that export rosewood have also caused damage to the village streets. News Five spoke to Maheia via phone and he says that the Forest Department is not doing enough to stop the pillaging.

Via Phone: Wil Maheia, P.N.P. Candidate, Toledo East

“With the coming of the illegal extraction of Rosewood, trucks are coming into the village right now with the oil company using the pier and as you can see from the pictures, they have turned grass streets into nothing but mud holes. And one of the most depressing things is because the street that they use goes right in front of; it’s the street that the people use to go to the church. So now the people must now use rubber boots to go to church as oppose to the past when they used to go with their good shoes. The people have asked to really bring some attention to this. There has been zero work done on any of the streets in Barranco and like I’ve said before it was just a lawn mower that was used to maintain these streets. Now with the extraction of the rosewood and the oil company using these grass streets as roads, it has really damaged up the village.”

Jose Sanchez

“The Rosewood you saw was not marked by the Forest Department also is that correct?”

Via Phone: Wil Maheia

“That is correct, there were several pieces of rosewood and none of it was marked and actually I only sent those pictures but there are pictures along the coast right now where people are illegally extracting rosewood. This can be stopped if the forest department is serious about stopping this because the way the law is, before they cut a tree, the forest department should inspect to see that it has the required size. Now that is not happening and every log that should, in my opinion, I think, should be stamped before it is extracted from the area that it was cut and this is not happening.”

The Mayan Leaders Alliance has also been monitoring the ongoing illegal rosewood extraction. They claim that millions of dollars have been lost in the exportation.

Channel 5


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#427028 - 01/07/12 02:16 PM Re: Rosewood – The Economic Reality [Re: Marty]
Marty Online   happy

Rosewood mania visits degradation on Barranco


According to Chief Forest Officer Wilber Sabido, rosewood exports have suddenly emerged as a rival to the more longstanding exports of mahogany, Belize’s national tree, as a reported 400,000 board feet have been exported for 2011, according to preliminary data held by the department, compared with just over half-a-million board feet of the national tree.

That sounds good for the local economy, but there are indications of rampant illegal activities surrounding the extraction of rosewood, with thefts now being reported from private lands and protected areas—another reason, it has been argued, why government should put a moratorium into effect, to freeze rosewood extraction, until the matter is properly sorted out.

Amandala has received multiple reports of illegal harvesting from protected areas, including the Sarstoon-Temash National Park. There have also been reports of rosewood timber piled up in Belize’s southernmost village of Barranco, although no one in that village has yet been given a license to harvest it. Forest Department officials have said that they were not aware of the rosewood timber photographed by Punta Gorda’s Wil Maheia in Barranco.

With regard to extraction from protected areas, Greg Ch’oc, executive director of the Sarstoon-Temash Institute for Indigenous Management (SATIIM), which co-manages the Sarstoon-Temash National Park, told Amandala Thursday that they have determined that at least 25 trees, capable of yielding 400 to 800 board feet each (valued on the overseas market, according to reported pricing details, at tens of thousands of dollars), have been stripped from the national park, which is illegal under the National Parks Act.

Lisel Alamilla, executive director of Ya’axche Conservation Trust (YCT), which co-manages the Bladen Nature Reserve, said that whereas they have not confirmed any illegal extraction from that park, there are reports of illegal extraction from the Deep River Forest Reserve. She said that patrols have been increased in Bladen, because loggers may target Bladen too.

According to Alamilla, the Government has not responded to a call from the NGO to put in place a moratorium on rosewood harvesting, until the situation could be properly assessed, and proper management and oversight implemented to ensure the sustainable extraction of rosewood from Toledo.

Another dimension to this story is the claims of illegal extraction from Mayan ancestral lands. There have been recent reports of tensions between at least one Mayan leader and a harvester from whom he had taken a chain saw used to cut rosewood from what the alcalde has insisted is ancestral lands. However, the counterclaim was that the rosewood was legally harvested under a license, and the alcalde, Alfonso Cal of Golden Stream, reported that the police had been threatening to lock him up for the manner in which he dealt with the logger.

Chief Forest Officer Sabido told our newspaper that the year 2011 saw an explosion in rosewood harvesting, and he said that his department is about to approach the Protected Areas Conservation Trust (PACT) for funding to conduct a much needed assessment, starting, if possible, by mid-January. He said that the Department hopes to engage YCT in conducting the work.

In light of reports that people harvesting rosewood are moving more towards the coast, in places like Barranco, Sabido said that because of the issues faced with alleged extraction from communal lands, harvesters are shifting to private lands and other areas, and indeed, said Sabido, they had received a report of rosewood extraction in the Deep River Forest Reserve just before the recent holidays.

The rosewood assessment they hope to commence in the weeks ahead, said Sabido, will first focus on extraction from national lands, because that is what the Department has jurisdiction over, he said.

As for the rosewood turning up in Barranco, Sabido said that he was not aware of it, but he did indicate that two residents from Barranco have requested a license from the Forest Department, which has not yet been granted to them.

Alamilla cautions of the potential ripple effects of the unsustainable and accelerated harvesting of rosewood, which, she said, means that more access ways and roads become open, giving further access to poaching and illegal hunting; increased soil erosion and degradation, and the loss of biodiversity in the forest.

Village residents are concerned that increased petroleum exploration in the adjacent Sarstoon-Temash National Park, as well as increased rosewood logging in the area has had a negative impact on Barranco’s roadways.

Barranco native Angela Palacio has written Toledo East area representative, Eden Martinez, Minister of Human Development, appealing for his intervention.

She said that, “Since the oil company has been doing drilling in the area and what seems to be illegal removal of rosewood from the forest in and around Barranco the condition of the road has deteriorated. The latter activity has seen big trucks on the road to Barranco and all over our beautiful village and at the pier... [A]s you will see in the picture, the few roads that we have are not passable to pedestrians,” said Palacio.

She has appealed to Martinez to attend to the conditions of the roads leading to and located in Barranco: “I urge you to kindly improve the road to Barranco from the Southern Highway to Barranco and also to repair the damage to the roads in the village,” she said, calling for the government to hold the persons who have been degrading the roads responsible for their actions.

“I would hate to think that they tear up the roads to the village and in the village, and pick up and leave,” she said.

She underscores that, “Barranco gets a lot of visitors for reasons including people who want to see where the late Andy P lived and is buried. Also, in this year we get to celebrate the 150th anniversary of the settling and founding of Barranco. We are celebrating this whole year. This celebration includes hosting the National Garifuna Convention in March in Barranco.”

(Amandala thanks Wil Maheia for the Barranco photos.)

Amandala


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#427663 - 01/13/12 02:39 PM Re: Rosewood – The Economic Reality [Re: Marty]
Marty Online   happy


Wil Maheia advocates against excessive Rosewood logging

The Peoples National Party is primarily active in the south and party leader Wil Maheia has been one of the vanguards in bringing illicit and unsustainable activities that takes place within the Toledo District to the forefront. One of those situations that have been close to Maheia’s heart is what he refers to as the rape of the highly coveted rosewood.

Wil Maheia, Leader, PNP
I would like to take this opportunity to appeal the Belizean people, to the nation of this Belize, from the Rio Hondo to the Sarstoon, that even though they are raping the Toldeo District, it will affect the entire country of Belize. So I would like the people to continue to put pressure on the government. It is very worrisome, because in the heart of the rainy season - if such exploitation can take place, as we head into the dry season, I could see the activities increasing – the illegal activities. Yesterday evening I was coming out and trucks were rushing out of the logging roads with Rosewood and the dry season hasn’t really begun yet. So I know that right now the activities will increase. I would like to once again call the government who has been turning a blind eye to this - the Forestry Department and the Chief Forest Officer Mr. sabido, please get out there and do your job. We all know the laws that before a Rosewood tree is cut, the Forest Officer should at least inspect it before it is cut and we know that is not happening. So we would at least like to ask you to do your job as the law states.

Wil says that neither he nor his party is against the harvesting of rosewood; rather it’s the unbridled harvesting of rosewood that raises great concern and they would support sustainable harvesting of the hardwood.

Wil Maheia
One thing I would like to clarify is that I, Wil Maheia and the PNP, we are not against the extraction of Rosewood. What we are against is the illegal logging and we are against the unsustainable extraction of Rosewood. Right now it is like we are taking it and there is not going to be a future. Apparently, we don’t want our kids to see this at the rate we are taking it. So our main concern is the unsustainable rate of which it is being extracted. There is no one planting Rosewood and there is no one marking the trees that are giving out the seed; everyone is just cutting, cutting and cutting and there is no concern about the future and about the future of these trees and new trees coming up, or young trees coming up. There is absolutely no protection and again I call on the Forestry Department to please do your job.

As we have reported here at Plus TV, the extraction of Rosewood has significantly increased over the past seven months and much of the hardwood has already been depleted in many of the southern villages.

PlusTV


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