Western Belize's border corridor with Guatemala is a vast expanse of green, much of it within protected areas. But in 2009 studies showed that during a 20 year span, eight thousand acres of the Chiquibul Forest and 3,500 acres of the Caracol Archaeological Reserve were fragmented - which means the forest, was lost, either denuded, altered or burnt.
And it continues…
Today, with the Friends for Conservation and Development and the Lighthawk Organization, 7news went on a flyover of a portion of the western border with Guatemala. We saw many areas of the forest, burnt and cleared by Guatemalans.
Rafael Manzanero, the Executive Director Of Friends For Conservation And Development narrated what looked troubling from above:..
Rafael Manzanero, Executive Director Of Friends For Conservation And Development
"In terms of the over flight which we did this morning with Lighthawk it is obvious that there is a progressive move of agricultural farms that are to occur inside of Belize by Guatemalan locals who are found nearby the border. we did an over flight one year ago and in terms of looking at that particular landscape and what we have observe of course is a recurrence of agricultural farming taking place inside of Belize. Like last year - this year we are still seeing a progressive move by farmers in moving from Guatemala into Belize for agricultural purposes. we all know already that the main crops are being planted along that border consists of corn, black beans and also pumpkin seeds. In terms of the change - what we are observing is that it has really been rather difficult for the agencies and authorities to contain that border and thus what we are obviously looking at is still an ongoing movement on people planting along that borderline. It is possible at all we still need to verify it, there might be over some 300 acres or more of areas that have been used especially for this year. We are still making the analysis, we need to get a better feeder but we understand that there would be about 30 areas already cleared for this year alone. But never the less the main point here to indicate is that the area is extremely porous. The border is very extent and so really we do require more resources in terms of being able to monitor, to be able to patrol and be able to contain that border. We are rapidly working with authorities to see how we can come about with a comprehensive borderline plan of action because certainly this is a trend that we have seen over the years and it will require considerable resources and planning and strategic move in terms of seeing how we can be more effective in deterring thus particular encroachments right along the western border."
Accompanying us on the flyover was a BDF Representative to make an aerial assessment for the army.