BELIZE – By BBN Staff: A new study from Friends of Conservation and Development (FCD), the NGO that co-manages the Chiquibul Forest Reserve, says that over 22,000 acres of forest has been affected by fires this year.
The study, titled “A Remote Sensing Damage Analysis of the Chiquibul Forest Impacted by the 2020 Forest Fires,” showed the fire damage in three protected areas: the Vaca Forest Reserve, Caracol Archaeological Reserve, and Chiquibul National Park. The report said that the total area damaged by fires amounted to some 22,227.33 acres.
“Most of the high fire severity, seen as fire scars, in the Chiquibul, are conspicuous around land that had illegally been used for agriculture by Guatemalan farmers. These agricultural lands, like the fire scars, are geographically spread along the Belize-Guatemalan border, and are more severe on the Guatemalan side,” FCD said.
The organization noted that, in the Chiquibul, fires were started on the Guatemalan side, while in the Vaca many of these fires were started deep within the reserve, notably by farmers operating inside or near the reserve in Belize
“The fires across the landscape were primarily started due to agricultural farming. The losses on biodiversity are difficult to quantify, but species of plants, trees and wild animals were heavily impacted. The health risks were also of high concern for residents in the Cayo District. A survey conducted on 13 farmers in the Vaca region shows that losses on crops, pastures, and fences went over Bz $100,000.00,” FCD added.