A team from the Friends for Conservation and Development and the Julian Cho Society, along with 12 Toledo village leaders went on a flyover of the Chiquibul on Friday to see first hand the impact of illegal incursions in that forest as well as the Columbia River Forest Reserve.

The flyover was to highlight that the latter protected area is under as much threat as the Chiquibul.

A representative from FCD, the REDD+ indigenous coordinator, the San Pedro Columbia chairman, and the REDD+ project officer all spoke on the experience.

Participant
"Today we are flying over the Chiquibul and over the Colombia River and with is we have 12 village leaders from the Toledo communities. The objective we are flying over the Colombia river and Chiquibul is because we want to create awareness to the village leaders about the challenges we have in the Chiquibul and the challenges they have in the Colombia Reserve. Currently, there is not action that we know or that we have seen over the past 5 years taking place to address those illegal activities in the Colombia river and we have progressively seen that this problem is just increasing and getting bigger."

Participant
"As part of the Redd+ project we have been actively engaging leaders, especially the buffer communities of the Colombia River Reserve, San Vicente, San Jose, Nalumka, San Pedro Colombia, Silver Creek and Indian Creek who are the buffer communities."

Participant
"We have a beautiful rainforest here which we need to protect, which we need to take care of as a community. What I noticed as we fly over is that a lot of Guatemalans as incurring into our territory. Recently according to our tour guide we heard that there is a street, we saw it, we flew over it a road being built recently in the month of September, right into the Colombia River, a lot of farming. Guatemalans coming into our territory and so these are the things we need to look carefully at."

Participant
"There needs to be more eyes on Colombia Forest Reserve. There needs to be more action within that area."

Participant
"The problem right now is small compared to the Chiquibul and compare to the size of the Colombia River, but compared to the situation in Guatemala cattle ranching and the aggressive agriculture frontier, we could tell you that in 10 years or maybe in 5 years you won't be able to control this problem."

Channel 7