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#439888 - 06/06/12 01:36 PM Unsanctioned Development In Wildlife Sancutary
Marty Offline
A stop order has been issued to a developer who cut a massive canal right through a wildlife sanctuary. It's the Belize Central Corridor near mile 25 on the Western Highway. It connects the wild areas of Southern and Northern Belize and is used by Jaguars as they roam over a large area.

But, a huge agricultural development - reportedly eighteen thousand acres of cane production - is in that same area - and the developer has trenched a massive canal to bring in water from the Belize River.

Now, the project has no environmental clearance - and the Forestry Department just became aware of it a week ago - after the trenching was well underway with four excavators working overtime to build the canal - right through the biological corridor. A quite disturbed Forestry Minister, Lisel Alamilla today told us that a stop order has been issued post haste.

She spoke to us via phone from Belmopan:..

Hon. Lisel Alamilla, Minister of Forestry
"We have been informed late last week that they were digging a trench within the sanctuary. Since then we have gotten photographs showing what is happening and the Department of the Environment and the Forest Department will be serving these people with a cease and desist order."

Jules Vasquez
"As I understand it this is a major agricultural project and they need the drain to bring in water from the river, am I correct?"

Hon. Lisel Alamilla, Minister of Forestry
"This is what I understand that it's a 18,000 acres development for sugar cane. But they don't have an EIA. We are just gearing this second hand. They don't have an EIA first for that project and secondly even so for this drain that they are digging."

Jules Vasquez
"I see that they have multiple back hoes operating in the area. All this was done without permission?"

Hon. Lisel Alamilla, Minister of Forestry
"Yes, without permission Jules, It is very huge and my concern for us is that people think that they can just carry on business in this manner without proper clearance."

Jules Vasquez
"A huge cane production project such as this has to have its supporters in the government."

Hon. Lisel Alamilla, Minister of Forestry
"I am not aware of this. I don't know if this happened before I became a minister. I will have to investigate more about this project. But it doesn't matter who is supporting this project, it doesn't exempt people from following the laws. No developer is exempted from following the laws of this country."

Jaguar experts say the canal can meaningfully affect the natural balance and cat movements in the area. Coincidentally, today is world environment day.

Later on in the news we'll show you why that central corridor is so important to Belize's jaguars and big cats.

Channel 7


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#439936 - 06/06/12 08:35 PM Re: Unsanctioned Development In Wildlife Sancutary [Re: Marty]
Bear Offline
Panthera needs to hear about this...

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#439997 - 06/07/12 02:45 PM Re: Unsanctioned Development In Wildlife Sancutary [Re: Marty]
Marty Offline

Developer cuts through Biological Corridor without permission

Minister Lisel Alamilla has issued a stop order on a development in a protected area in the Belize District. The developer, a Guatemalan company named Green Tropics Limited, was dredging a canal in the hearth of the reserve and the government is looking at its legal options. It is not known when the land was acquired by the Guatemalan company, but in August 2010, the Ministry of Natural Resources, along with wild cat conservation group Panthera, signed into law the creation of a protected area designating over seven thousand acres of crown land in the Belize District for use as a key jaguar habitat. The stretch of land, known as Labouring Creek Jaguar Corridor Wildlife Sanctuary, serves as a passageway for the big cats to rove. Green Tropics has illegally cleared a substantial tract of land which it intended to use as irrigation for a sixteen thousand-acre sugar cane plantation. The undertaking, according to Minister of Forestry Lisel Alamilla, was not green lighted by the Department of the Environment since an environmental impact assessment was not approved prior to commencement of the project.

Lisel Alamilla, Minister of Forestry

Lisel Alamilla

“We were just alerted to this sometime last week, late last week. And then last week Friday, I understand, that we got a copy of the EIA but this activity had already occurred, or was occurring rather.”

Isani Cayetano

“What are the steps being taken now to either put a stay on this activity or to try to bring it under control?”

Lisel Alamilla

“My last briefing from the Forestry Department and the Department of the Environment was that they will serve these people with a cease and desist order and they will also remove them from the area. It is within a wildlife sanctuary [and] this is unacceptable and so then we will find out more after that. It’s also gone to the Solicitor General’s Office for advice on how we can proceed legally.”

Isani Cayetano

“Now my understanding is that it poses an ecological threat to wildlife within that particular area. Can you expand on this?”

Lisel Alamilla

“Yes. The importance of that area is the Central Belize Corridor which connects the northern forest to the southern forest right across the Western Highway, around the zoo, around that area and that is the only remaining corridor that would allow the movement between big mammals like jaguars and tapirs to move between the north and the south. So it’s very important in how this area is developed.”

Isani Cayetano

“In terms of a protocol dealing either with the ministries involved, was there a miscommunication or was there a lack thereof in terms of presenting this [EIA] to you prior to the activity taking place?”

Lisel Alamilla

“I had no knowledge of it and the truth is that perhaps this idea may have been presented at Cabinet before, I don’t know, but it doesn’t mean that they are exempted from complying with the requirements of the Department of the Environment or the Department of Forestry, you know. Developers need to become aware that we have laws and that they can’t plead ignorance and that forgiveness, they can’t come later and say forgive us and we can continue. That has to stop. They have to become fully aware as it’s their responsibility to become fully knowledgeable as to how they go about investing and developing and doing development activities in Belize.”

Dr. Howard Quigley, Panthera’s Jaguar Program Executive Director, and Gaspar Vega, Minister of Natural Resources, signed a Memorandum of Understanding on August 9th, 2010 to work together on activities to maintain the Labouring Creek Jaguar Corridor Wildlife Sanctuary.

Channel 5


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#440019 - 06/07/12 03:50 PM Re: Unsanctioned Development In Wildlife Sancutary [Re: Marty]
Bear Offline
Good old Howard, I bet he's pissed, I Know I am. This is ridiculous.

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#440030 - 06/07/12 06:46 PM Re: Unsanctioned Development In Wildlife Sancutary [Re: Marty]
Katie Valk Offline
Problem is in some instances, the land illegally cleared is worth more than the fines, so people do it anyway knowing they are ahead if they get caught and way ahead if they don't.
_________________________
Belize based travel specialist
www.belize-trips.com
info@belize-trips.com

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#440044 - 06/07/12 09:50 PM Re: Unsanctioned Development In Wildlife Sancutary [Re: Katie Valk]
ron Offline
Make them restore the land as well as the fine.

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#440072 - 06/08/12 08:31 AM Re: Unsanctioned Development In Wildlife Sancutary [Re: Marty]
Gaz Cooper Offline
Fill it all back in and watch the Jungle reclaim what was rightfully its in the first place. Wont take long either

Gaz
_________________________






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#440079 - 06/08/12 01:43 PM Re: Unsanctioned Development In Wildlife Sancutary [Re: Gaz Cooper]
Mike Campbell Offline
We should use the equivalency principle as in Mexico, your are fined what ever it takes to put it back like it was. Its the only real deterrent. They must pay to have it restored as they can not be trusted to do it themselves. Until we take real action all these "developers" will continue to do as they please be they Belizean or other.

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#440099 - 06/08/12 03:04 PM Re: Unsanctioned Development In Wildlife Sancutary [Re: Marty]
Marty Offline

Conservationists: Labouring Creek Was Compromised

Earlier this week, we told you about the trenching of a canal right through a wildlife sanctuary in Central Belize. Specifically it is the Labouring Creek Jaguar Corridor Wildlife Sanctuary which was set aside in mid 2010.

Running along the banks of the Belize River the sanctuary is an important forest link for wildlife, including the jaguar. Now, Land on the west side of the Sanctuary has been privately purchased for sugarcane production. An Environmental Impact Assessment has been submitted to the Department of the Environment. But, the EIA has not yet gone to public consultation, nor has it been approved by the National Environmental Appraisal Committee.

Nonetheless, a drainage canal fifty metres wide and almost two miles long has been trenched out through the middle of the Sanctuary. Conservationists from the Environmental Research Institute at the University of Belize and its international partner, Panthera issued a statement today to say the canal will disrupt the movement of most of the 22 species of large- to medium-sized mammals known to occupy the region, and will damage the functioning of the corridor.

Channel 7


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#440175 - 06/09/12 12:49 PM Re: Unsanctioned Development In Wildlife Sancutary [Re: Marty]
Marty Offline

For The Love Of Labouring Creek...

All this week, we've been telling you about the massive Canal that has been cut right through the Labouring Creek Jaguar Corridor Wildlife Sanctuary.

It covers three kilometers of the sanctuary, spans 35 feet, and is 20 feet deep.

Today we spoke via phone to a trio of Doctors from the Environmental Research Institute at the University of Belize. They explained to us the importance of the corridor as it connects the jungles of northern and southern Belize.

Dr. Elma Kay said that cutting a canal through it could have a consequential effect on a number of species, the jaguar included:..

Dr. Elma Kay, Dir. Terrestrial Science & Admin - ERI, UB
"You are talking about severing an area that is one of the last remaining connections from the northern block forest to the Maya mountains. How do we contain at least one continuous track of forest even if it's not large that still allows for the animals to move through and be able to cross the highway and continue on into other protected areas and the Maya mountains."

"For the corridor and for movements and for connectivity of those animal populations - it has huge implications."

Dr. Bart Harmsen, Wildlife Fellow, ERI, UB
"This is a necessity to safeguard the wildlife of Belize and this last portion is just there and then it's very disturbing that the government recognizes that this last piece is important and that there is a developer without caring about anything just decides to dig a ditch that there is a development next door that just does this and ask questions later and then wants to turn the debate towards whether the canal matters - they shouldn't have dug it in the first place."

Dr. Rebecca Foster, Dir. Belize Jaguar Program, Panthera
"It's a wildlife sanctuary and the only activity that is legally allowed in a wildlife sanctuary is research, education and tourism, not the digging of a 20ft deep trench."

Dr. Elma Kay, Dir. Terrestrial Science & Admin - ERI, UB
"How could it actually happen in an area that is declared protected area when an EIA hasn't been approved and even if an EIA was approved - shouldn't they have check that this is a protective area? Shouldn't they have seen that this is a wildlife sanctuary and the laws do not permit you to dig a trench through there first of all?"

"The shock of it is that how cans this development happen in an area where development like that is not permitted because it's protected and worse than that - how could the whole EIA process be violated. As far as we know an EIA has been prepared and that's all; there has been no public consultation, there has been nothing else. So it's a complete disregard for the laws of the nation."

All work on the project has ceased after the forestry department issued a stop order this week. At the peak of activity, as many as four excavators were trenching the canal. The case has been forwarded to the Solicitor General's office for advice on what to do next.

Channel 7


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