minister alamilla and jose perez.jpg - 121.21 KbMost Belizeans are aware of names such as the Chiquibul Forest, Sarstoon Temash National Park, Sapodilla Caye Range and the Hol Chan Marine Reserve. These are some of the most famous protected areas in the country but with the exception of a small group of people nobody knows why it is important that these areas be protected. On Wednesday, November 27th, the Ministry of Forestry, Fisheries and Sustainable Development launched an awareness campaign to educate Belizeans on the role and importance of protected areas across the country.

The initiative is entitled Branding Campaign for the National Protected Areas System and the launch was attended by Government officials as well as representatives of protective areas management organizations. Valentine Rosado, Communications Officer for the National Protected Areas Secretariat, says “Traditionally, awareness initiatives have mainly been conservation and science based and that only appeal to a small portion of society.” Rosado says previous awareness efforts have not resulted in the kind of public support necessary for efficient stewardship of our natural resources. He says, “The idea behind the branding initiative is to demonstrate that protective areas are of direct value to all Belizeans.”

Senator Lisell Alamilla, Minister of Forestry, Fisheries and Sustainable Development, says it is important for all Belizeans to be part of the effort to protect our natural resources. She was presented with a poster of the official logo of the National Protected Areas System. Rosado says the theme “Nature. Culture. Life.” emphasizes the fact that our protected areas play a crucial role in our daily lives. There will be videos, posters, magazines and other information sheets circulated across the country to rebrand our protected areas. A website will also be established soon which will provide information on all the protected areas of Belize.

Wilber Sabido, Chief Forestry Officer and Chairman of the National Protected Areas Steering Committee, says the branding initiative is part of a larger project being funded by the UNDP/Global Environment Facility Project. That project is aimed at “Strengthening National Capacities for the Operationalization, Consolidation, and Sustainability of Belize’s Protected Areas System”. Minister Alamilla has been on the record calling for “more collaboration in the management of protected areas in order to make the most of available resources”. She cites the remarks of international experts who have reviewed the conservation methods of the country and concluded that “Belize really has an aggregation of sites and not a conservation system”. Sabido says the UNDP/GEF funded project will “Harmonize legal instruments that deal with protected areas under the Fisheries and Forestry Departments and address gaps that exist in the current system.” The project is also being supported by the Protected Areas Conservation Trust and the Oak Foundation.

The Guardian