Consultation meeting March 14th... suggestions on preserving environment solicited

Francisco Salazar (left) and Anselmo Casteñada of the Ministry of Natural Resources

The Government of Belize, in an effort to slow the loss of the country's biodiversity (the variety of different life forms in the region), has hired a team of National Consultants to serve as primary formulators of a "strategy and action plan" which will be devised through participation and local consultations with people in different areas of the country.

On Friday, February 20th, 1998, at 2:00 p.m. at the San Pedro Town Hall, Mr. Anselmo Castañeda of the Ministry of Natural Resources and the National Coordinator of the National Biodiversity Strategy and Action Plan (NBSAP) held a pre-consultation meeting to inform the people of Ambergris Caye and Caye Caulker about how they can participate in a consultation meeting to be held on Saturday, March 14th at the Town Hall.

Invited and interested participants at the pre-consultation meeting included members of the San Pedro Tour Guide Association, Green Reef, the San Pedro Sun, Belize Marine TREK, the Forestry Department, San Pedro Hotel Association, Siwi-ban a Caye Caulker based non-governmental organization and other Caye Caulker community organizations, the Lions Club, Hol Chan Marine Reserve and Bacalar Chico National Park and Marine Reserve.

Participants were briefed on the information they will receive more in-depth on March 14th and were asked to make suggestions and to give feedback. Mr. Castañeda reviewed several of the major elements that have and are continuing to threaten the biodiversity of the country. These detrimental elements include population growth, commercial collection of plant and animal species and the distribution of exotic species. He told the participants at the meeting that in Punta Gorda a certain person had been exporting plants out of the country without the consent of the government.

Mr. Castañeda mentioned that the Action Plan will be composed of 3 components: (1) Biodiversity Country Study, (2) the Formulation of a National Strategy and (3) the Formulation of an Action Plan. Members of the National Consultants team include Delia Tillet - National Consultant (NC) on Geography, information systems and environmental plans, Zolia Ellis - NC on legal regulations and policy aspects of biodiversity conservation, John Brigg - NC on Economic development and planning in the agricultural and tourism sector, Noel Jacobs - NC on Fisheries, marine and coastal areas, Hugh O'Brien - NC on Medicinal plants and Oscar Rosado NC on Forestry.

According to Mr. Castañeda, the consultants will have 4 weeks to draft an action plan after which the plan will be presented to the public who will criticize and make suggestions as to how the plan can be improved. It will then take another 6 weeks for the plan to be finalized. NBSAP will hold a final workshop to present the final draft of the strategy and action plan before it is submitted to the Cabinet for approval by the Government of Belize.

Persons who are interested in participating in the consultation meeting on March 14th, at the San Pedro Town Hall are welcome to attend and are asked to invite others to the meeting. For more information contact Mr. Anselmo Castañeda or Mr. Francisco Salazar, Ministry of Natural Resources, Forestry Dept., Belmopan 08 - 22082.

Consultation meeting March 14th... suggestions on preserving environment solicited

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San Pedro Town, Ambergris Caye, Belize News