Boots on the ground! FCD will triple its patrols in the Chiquibul

By Benjamin Flowers
Staff Reporter

Friends of Conservation and Development, the non-governmental organization which co-manages the Chiquibul Forest, is preparing to beef up its monitoring of the area by tripling the number of forest rangers.
Director Rafael Manzanero, explained that after the successful Chiquibul telethon in October, the NGO acquired the funding it needed to increase its staff from six to 18.

Manzanero added that from a list of 108 applicants, FCD has already hired some and will have the full complement of rangers by the end of next month.

“We are definitely looking at increased presence in the Chiquibul, especially in the areas of Rio Blanco and Ceibo Chico,” Manzanero said.
He added that Belize/Guatemalan cooperation in protecting the area is proceeding well, and several notable progressions have been made in cracking down on illegal logging.

FCD is hoping to sign a memorandum of understanding, dealing with environmental protection, with the Government of Guatemala before year’s end.

FCD’s telethon raised more than $320,000 in pledges.
Central Government pledged $120,000. The other $200,000 came from pledges throughout the day, including $10,000 from the Belize Tourism Board.

The goal of the telethon was to secure the funds to bring the number of rangers up to 24.

The Chiquibul Forest is an ecological treasure house comprised of the Chiquibul National Park, the Chiquibul Forest Reserve and the Caracol Archeological Reserve. These reserves contain the headwaters of the Belize River Watershed, the most important watershed in Belize, which provides water for a Belizean population of more than 350,000 in hydropower, irrigation and home consumption.

The National Statistical Institute of Belize puts the estimated 2014 population at 358,899.

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