By Marion V. Ali
The Chiquibul Forest Reserve will receive much needed protection from people who infiltrate its perimeters to illegally harvest, hunt, log or poach the vast natural resources that flourish therein.
Through the efforts of an initiative established three years ago between Friends for Conservation (FCD) and Guatemalan-based conservation group, Asociacion Balam, steps are now being made to introduce a project that discourages illegal logging in the reserve.
FCD Executive Director, Rafael Manzanero told The Reporter on Wednesday that the programs target people from north to south Peten, which borders the Chiquibul Reserve.
Aside from actual joint foot patrols, Asociacion Balam will work towards getting the penalty increased governing illegal logging and harvesting of timber in Guatemala increased. It will also give added support to a task force to deal with the of fence of illegal logging in certain areas of Petén.
They will also promote awareness in rural communities in Guatemala, particularly along the border with Belize.
On another approach, Manzanero will depart Belize this Saturday for Taiwan, where he will meet with representatives of various conservation agencies in the hope of attracting support to help with the protection of the Scarlet Macaw, an endangered species that has come under heavy poaching in the reserve.
Manzanero says the plan is to share with the Taiwanese agencies the scope of FCD’s work to see what kind of assistance it can garner towards the protection of the macaw parrot, whose number, it is estimated, has dwindled to as low as 200.
In an effort to deter illegal activity in the Chiquibul, FCD is about to deploy more ranger patrols to the remotest areas of the Chiquibul Reserve, which now has an increased BDF presence.