Today PACT handed over 1.2 million dollars in grants to several NGO's. These grants will assist the organizations in conservation management, environmental research and education among other projects. At the ceremony held at the Biltmore we spoke with Minister of State responsible for environment Omar Figueroa as well as 2 of the grant recipients. They discussed how crucial these grants are to the protection and preservation of our environment and wildlife/animal species.

Hon. Omar Figueroa, Min. State, Environment, Sus. Dev.
"Just like I told them, funding institution, you have to look at the project and you have to look at the relevance. How it relates, how it will strengthen, how the conservation recommendations will be used. And you have a key list of priorities for Belize for our conservation areas. For example, you look at the research proposal that Celso Poot submitted, for one you need to realize that the Baird's tapir is a globally endangered species so any work that you do with Baird's tapir is extremely important. not only that but Belize has a healthy population. so we need to understand these movement patterns, the use of habitat and when you have sound science guiding conservation policy then you can rest assure that you will be moving forward with the management and protection of, not only this species, but of the habitats that are critical for its survival."

Rafael Manzanero. Executive Director, FCD
"This grant is specifically more to deal with one of the problems that we face in Chiquibul, which is the gold panning activity. We want to concentrate more efforts specifically into the head waters and the protection of the head waters and thus part of it is going to be enforcement. Secondly, it's also to raise more awareness about really the problems that are taking place over there. Thirdly, it's to do a level of research to understand more of the situation in terms of the gold panning activity occurring on the main hill waters of the Chiquibul."

Amanda Acosta, Executive Dir. - Audubon Society
"We are a recipient of a large grant from the PACT and what that large grant entails is, it looks at financial sustainability, it looks at management effectiveness, certain tools that need to be designed for instance management plans that need to be designed. We also have beneficiaries, in this case are Cockscomb Basin Wildlife Sanctuary, Saint Herman's Blue Hole National Park, as well as Guanacaste National Park."

FCD got two hundred thousand dollars for the Monitoring and Protection of Headwaters of Chiquibul Forest while the Audubon Society got $399,939 for Enhancing the Long-Term Sustainability for Biodiversity Conservation Across Three Renowned Conservation Areas in Belize

In total, 8 grants were handed over today. Figueroa also received funding for his research on the Jabiru stork and Jaguars.

Channel 7