General / Uncategorized / Weekend News

Two men fined $10,000 for illegally entering protected area

By Marion Ali, Assistant Editor

Two men have been fined a hefty sum of $10,000 each for ‘illegal entry into a protected area’, after they pleaded guilty to the charge in the Dangriga Magistrate’s Court this week.

Carlos Palacios, 35, and Donald Wewe, 47, were charged under the National Protected Areas System Act of 2015. If they fail to make payment, they will be imprisoned for one year.

Authorities apprehended the two men during a routine patrol within the Mayflower Bocawina National Park in the Stann Creek district last year.

The pair was also found in possession of 27 pieces of lumber and a chain saw – items often times linked to illegal logging. The department issued a press release stating that “recognizing that the complexity of illegal logging and illegal timber-trafficking requires greater collaboration of all stakeholders. …Officers and rangers of the Mayflower Bocawina Environment and Development Group have stepped up patrols and monitoring to stem the illegal forestry activities.”

The Department says it will increase the number of rangers and patrols, improve collaboration with co-managers and join law enforcement officers in setting-up road blocks and inspection points at strategic areas over the coming months.

Forest Officer, Rasheda Garcia says the public is starting to appreciate the gravity of these types of crimes

“Such exploitation seriously undermines Belize’s forest-dependent economy and ecological integrity, costing us far more than what illegal loggers oftentimes pay when caught and even more when they elude authorities,” Garcia shared.

Garcia says the recent passage of the National Protected Areas System Act and the recent amendments to the Forest Act have allowed for stricter penalties, but there needs to be more action. Anyone who wishes to report cases of illegal logging can call the Department at: 822-2079 or email at [email protected]

The Mayflower Bocawina National Park spreads over 7,800 acres of forests and contains Mayan archaeological sites, three primary waterfalls and is home to a host of wildlife species.

Comments are closed.