Rosewood plunder on the rise in Toledo despite existing moratorium
The wholesale pillaging of rosewood in southern Belize continues unchecked despite a moratorium which came into effect in February 2012. And we can report tonight that since the start of the annual dry season there has seen a spike in illegal harvesting activities within the Toledo District. On Tuesday, an operation in the vicinity of Trio Village reportedly yielded a Chinese businessman an undisclosed number of flitches. This is the second encounter since last month involving the plunder of rosewood trees. In early February, rangers from the Sarstoon-Temash Institute for Indigenous Management happened upon a well organized operation within the area of the Sarstoon-Temash National Park. That chance meeting involved Guatemalan loggers who were felling rosewood along the Belize/Guatemala border near Black Creek. With the more recent encounter occurring on Tuesday afternoon, concerns are being raised regarding the effectiveness of the suspension. According to Wil Maheia, of PGTV, there were no indications that Forest Officers were unaware of the activity, nor is there much effort being placed on the policing of the forest.
Via phone: Wil Maheia, PGTV
Via Phone: Wil Maheia
“Despite the moratorium, rosewood is being cut in our district. A few weeks ago, SATIIM intercepted a number or rosewood flitches inside the Sarstoon-Temash National Park. That went unchecked and uncensored, then as recent as yesterday, a container full of rosewood left Trio Village going north in a black Mack truck and if there is a moratorium on rosewood our question here in the Toledo District is why is rosewood still being cut, still being harvested and still being shipped out of the district?”
“Do you know if, based on your observation of the activity which took place on Tuesday, whether forestry officials were involved or was this either an isolated case where there was no one around to check on what was taking place?”
“Clearly it was in the middle of the day, so clearly [the] Forestry [Department] should have, or someone in Forestry definitely knows about the fact that rosewood was being exported or loaded into a container from Trio Village. Is the Chief Forest Officer or anyone in the Forest Department is saying this is salvaged wood I would like to challenge them on that because clearly this wood was recently cut and it is going out of the district. And if there is, like they say, a moratorium on rosewood, then how come, how is it that so much rosewood is still being exported and leaving the district and where are the forest officers?”
“Was there an attempt on your part to ascertain who this activity is being conducted under, i.e. the businessman or the company involved in this operation?”
“Yes, definitely the information we have received so far is that there is some Chinese company, Edison B, by the name of Edison B who has the permission or who has the authority to export it. As far as we are concerned it’s a Chinese company that claims the name Edison B.”
“Were any officials notified at the point where you or whomever observed this activity taking place, were any officials notified of what was happening?”
“Well, our complaints, I instantly called the Forest Department, the calls go unanswered and I am sure that other people have called them and notified them and informed them of the fact that rosewood is being moved from the Toledo District and it continues to move from the Toledo District. It seems as though there is no regards for the laws of Belize when it comes to rosewood or the people involved in rosewood are above the laws of this country.”
The value of the rosewood cannot be appraised because the quantity is undetermined.