Awareness Campaign on the Management of Forest Fires Launched

22 April 2009

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Belize — A project entitled ‘Strengthening Public Policy Related to Forest Fire Management in Belize” is in the planning process. Actors in civil society in Belize and Guatemala as well as both governments have come together to combat forest fires. The purpose of the project is to develop a policy and strategic framework for fire management in Guatemala and Belize. Project Coordinator representing Friends for Conservation and Development, Anselmo Castaneda, tells us more.

Anselmo Castaneda; Project Coordinator

“The goal of the project is to ensure that the key bio-diversity area or a KBA. We have the Chiki Bull Area and the Southern Maya Mountain which are area where we do not want fires to become a threat. We want to achieve that be developing three documents; the first document is to get a diagnostic or a baseline on what we have about forest fire management in Belize. The same thing that we do in Belize will be done in Belize will be done in Guatemala because it is two countries under one project. The second objective is to use this information to develop a national policy and corresponding strategies on how we are going to do this.”

The first draft of the report was prepared during a meeting with 26 stakeholders last Friday in Belmopan.

Anselmo Castaneda; Project Coordinator

“We have two consultations or two workshops. On the 6th of March we had a socialization of the project, in other words we shared with stakeholders what the project is all about, what it aims to achieve and the presentation on what the base line study entails and who are conducting the study. As of today we are about to finish that baseline. We have had the first workshop where stakeholders came to Belmopan last week Friday and they received the draft document from the consultant. On the 6th of May with the input from that workshop that we had last week the consultants will have a final document which will be validated by the stakeholders. This document will become the main source document for the development of the policy.”

Castaneda tells us what will happen when the final draft has been prepared in late July.

Anselmo Castaneda; Project Coordinator

“These documents will be passed on to the Forestry Department who is the government entity with the legal powers to take it from that point onwards to the ministry and eventually through the government. We hope the government is going to develop and accept that policy and strategy and policy document and make it a law. A revision is due for the current forest policy which is very old. Our current policy is from 1954 or 1957 so it is outdated so we need to update this document.”

The project was established as a part of a mandate derived at the signing of the Memorandum of Understanding for the Cooperation Issues of Protected Areas Conservation in August of 2005 by Guatemala, Mexico and Belize.

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