Promoting Collaborative Joint Environment Efforts Between Belize and Guatemala

March 2013

In March of 2013 the Belizean environmental NGO, Friends for Conservation and Development (FCD), assisted by the OAS in the Adjacency Zone (OAS/AZ), spearheaded an effort to create more awareness and stronger links between environmentally aware entities that function in or near the Belize-Guatemala Adjacency Zone.

First, from March 13th through the 14th, the OAS/AZ and FCD coordinated a gathering of officials from both countries to discuss “common issues and environmental problems” affecting the AZ region and beyond. The encounters were held in Belize and consisted of a one day workshop and a subsequent site visit the following day. The workshop, which was put on by consultants from Wilderness Group Consulting, served to address cross-Adjacency Line environmental issues and galvanize enthusiasm and support for joint endeavors. The second day consisted of a site visit to the Chiquibul National Park in Belize. This activity enabled the group to see first hand the environmental destruction that takes place through illegal logging and harvesting of natural plant life in the Chiquibul area. Participants included: from Guatemala, five members from the División para la protección de la Naturaleza (DIPRONA) and also the Mayor of Melchor de Mencos. From Belize, a number of members from the Belize Defense Force, police force, immigration, forestry department and FCD all took part in the activities.

Second, from March 22nd through the 23rd, FCD, together with the Guatemalan environmental NGO Asociación Balam, extended an invitation to a number of organizations working in the Guatemalan state of Petén to visit “Las Cuevas Research Station” located in the Chiquibul Forest Reserve. The purpose of this encounter was to create an action plan for joint endeavors and facilitate a stronger relationship between environmentally oriented NGOs on the Guatemalan side and their counterparts on the Belizean side. The activities were facilitated by Wilderness Group Consulting and generated the following outcomes: future dedicated efforts regarding, environmental security, public awareness and sustainable livelihoods.

Participating organizations included: Fundación Naturaleza para la Vida, Rainforest Alliance, Asociación Montanas Mayas, Mesa de Tierras y Ambiente, Consejo Nacional de Áreas Protegidas, Asociación Balam, Global Humanitaria, Mesa de Recursos y Radio Utan Kaj.