Launch of Forestry Project Facility

Belmopan - 17 October, 2007

The Belize Forest Department, Ministry of Natural Resources and the Environment today launched its National Forest Program Facility Project.

The launching took place at a one-day workshop being held at the Belmopan Hotel, and is to lay the groundwork on the manner in which Belize's National Forest Program Facility will function. It will also outline the role of the stakeholders throughout the process.

The project, funded by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, under its National Forest Program Facility, will focus on consolidating existing policies on sustainable forest management and to develop a new, cross-sectoral forest policy for Belize that incorporates the principles of sustainable forest management, development of the forest industry, poverty alleviation, community involvement, ecotourism, and ecosystems goods and services, among others. The project will cover a three year period, at a cost of US$335,000.00.

The National Forest Program Facility of the FAO assists countries to develop and implement national forest programmes that effectively address local needs and national priorities, and reflect internationally agreed principles, through informed participation of civil society. Facility support to national forest programs follows three main strategic directions aimed at making national forest programs key instruments to:

� build consensus at the national level on how to address issues relevant to forests, in the overall context of sustainable development;
� integrate sustainable forest management into broader inter-sectoral processes at the national level, with a clear focus on poverty alleviation;
� integrate commitments made at the international level.

Belize's policy revision will build on work already conducted through national initiatives such as the Forest Planning and Management Project, the National Biodiversity Strategy and Action Plan, and the National Protected Areas Policy and System Plan. It will rely heavily on the intervention of non-state actors who are well represented throughout many sectors, especially forest and protected areas management.

Present at the launching was Mr. Jhony Zapata - FAO Regional Manager for the National Forest Program Facility, Mr. Claus Eckelmann - FAO Regional Forestry Supervisor, various Government Departments, timber industry representatives, protected areas managers and civil society organizations.

As a part of the NFP process a Partnership Agreement for the Facility was signed between the Ministry of Natural Resources and the Environment-Forest Department and the FAO.

For further information please contact:
Ms. Tanya Santos,
Forest Officer,
Forest Department,
Ministry of Natural Resources & the Environment
Tels: 822-1523; 822-1524

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