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PACT Awards 3 New Grants in Capacity Building and Environmental Support

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

PACT AWARDS 3 NEW GRANTS IN CAPACITY BUILDING AND ENVIRONMENTAL SUPPORT

May 12, 2017— The Protected Areas Conservation Trust (PACT) is proud to announce to the public and our stakeholders that 3 new investments have been made for the month of May. PACT has awarded two Professional Development Grants and one Environmental Support Grant for a total value of BZ $24,300.00. The first Professional Development Grant was awarded to the Ya’axché Conservation Trust at BZ $9,550.00 to enable their Science Director and Protected Areas Program Director to participate in the ‘28th International Congress for Conservation Biology’ in Cartagena, Columbia. The second Professional Development Grant was awarded to the Belize Forest Department at BZ $10,000.00 for the participation of one of their Foresters in the ‘2017 International Seminar on Protected Area Management’ to be held in Montana, USA. The third grant issued was an Environmental Support Grant to Caye Caulker’s La Isla Cariñosa Academy (LICA) at a total value of BZ $4,750.00. Funds from this grant will be used to allow for LICA to carry out its “Education Week 2017” around activities that teach students the benefits of conservation and proper waste disposal on the island.

Ya’axché Conservation Trust – $9,550.00
Ya’axché Conservation Trust works with communities in and around Bladen Nature Reserve and Columbia River Forest Reserve to develop capacity and advocate for the safeguarding and sustainable use of land and natural resources. They currently co-manage two protected areas in Southern Belize. Over the past two years, Ya’axché have been using the Spatial Monitoring and Report Tool (SMART) as a part of its wildlife monitoring strategy. By participating in this Congress, it is expected the knowledge acquired and shared over the course of the Congress will allow for improved decision making and innovation in the field of wildlife and biodiversity management.

Belize Forest Department – $10,000.00
The Belize Forest Department was established in 1935 and serves as the regulatory agency responsible for the management of terrestrial protected areas. In some cases, they are aided by NGO co-managing counterparts. By attending this Congress, the Forest Department will be building the capacity of its in-house Forester in proper protected areas management techniques and strategies for long-term sustainable use and enjoyment of protected areas. Main themes to be covered at the seminar include: integrated planning for protected areas; community involvement and transboundary issues in the face of climate change among others.

La Isla Cariñosa Academy (LICA) – $4,750.00
LICA is a private school located in Caye Caulker Village. Through this grant, students will be introduced to themes that contribute to a healthy and clean environment, which benefits the community as well as protected areas. Activities to be carried out under this grant will include site visits to the Caye Caulker Forest Reserve in addition to painting and placement of garbage bins. The latter is an especially significant feature because bins will be placed in the school zone area of Caye Caulker. At present, there are no bins within this school zone. In doing so, students will be actively promoting a clean environment, through proper waste disposal.

PACT takes this opportunity to congratulate all recipients, and to thank them for contributing to greater conservation capacity building and education awareness!

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For more information on Ya’axché, visit: http://www.yaaxche.org/

For more information on the Belize Forest Department, visit: http://www.forestdepartment.gov.bz/
For more information on La Isla Cariñosa Academy, visit: https://www.facebook.com/La-Isla-Carinosa-Academy

PACT was formally established in January 1996 with the passing of the Protected Areas Conservation Trust Act, No. 15 of 1995, creating the institution as a Statutory Board. PACT contributes to the sustainable management and development of Belize’s natural and cultural heritage by providing effective funding support to protected areas. The PACT is managed by a Board of Directors that is comprised of Government agencies, non-government organizations and individual experts.

PACT Project Funds used Towards the Creation of New Nature Centre

PACT Project Funds used Towards the Creation of New Nature Center

Belmopan City, Belize. (Wednesday, 8 Feb. 2017) – Saint Herman’s Blue Hole National Park (SHBHNP) just got an upgrade. Today, the Trust was on hand as the Belize Audubon Society (BAS)unveiled its new nature center at the national park. Delivering the keynote address was Dr. Omar Figueroa – Minister of the State in the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry, Fisheries, the Environment, Sustainable Development and Immigration. “This national park, while relatively small in size, is an important component of the larger network of protected areas. It is important ecologically, and it is important socially.” Dr. Figueroa also applauded the Belize Audubon Society for mobilizing and engaging the buffer communities of Ringtail, Armenia and St. Margaret over the course of the project.

Saint Herman’s was declared a national park in December 1986. It is co-managed by the Belize Audubon Society and the Government of Belize. It is one of 18 national parks within the National Protected Areas System (NPAS). The area of the reserve is roughly 575 acres and is a popular spot for picnicking, cave exploration, swimming and bird-watching. Saint Herman’s Blue Hole National Park gets its name from a clear deep pool which is a stunning, sapphire blue.

During the 2014 grants cycle, the Board of Directors of the Protected Areas Conservation Trust (PACT) approved the following proposal put forward by BAS: to ‘enhance St. Herman’s Blue Hole National Park’ through new infrastructure, mapping of the area that forms the National Park as well as the creation of a 5 year management plan. A total of BZ $204,998.75 was approved for the expansion and renovation of the swimming platform and to replace the railing near the swimming areas as well as to create new restroom facilities at both park entrances. Funds were needed to complete and furnish the Nature Center with displays and signs and so in 2016 a large grant for a total of BZ $419,936.74 was approved for the Belize Audubon Society to provide for the long term sustainability across three renowned conservation areas in Belize – one of which is Saint Herman’s. This project will focus on creating financial sustainability through the provision of a gift shop and ticket booth among other objectives.

When It Rains it Floods: The Need for Wetlands

When It Rains it Floods: The Need for Wetlands

It’s World Wetlands Day, and forty-six years to the day that the Ramsar Convention for the conservation and sustainable use of wetlands was signed. The Ramsar Convention is an international treaty. Every year, on 2 February, World Wetlands Day is celebrated to raise awareness of the value of wetlands to us and our natural environment. In recent years, the quality of wetland areas have been steadily declining. The benefits of maintaining healthy wetland areas are innumerable, and range from providing a source of food, freshwater supply, building materials and climate change mitigation among others.

To date there are 2,231 Ramsar Sites across the globe. The criteria for establishing wetlands of international importance focuses on sites that are either rare or unique. Within the National Protected Areas System (NPAS) of Belize, there are two protected areas that fit this criteria. In 1998, the Crooked Tree Wildlife Sanctuary was officially designated a Ramsar Site, with Sarstoon Temash National Park achieving this status in 2005.

Crooked Tree Wildlife Sanctuary (1984)

The Crooked Tree Wildlife Sanctuary was established in 1984 and is replete with evidence of Belize’s colourful biodiversity. This site is the home of a variety of local and migratory birds for which bird watching is a popular activity for locals and tourists alike. Birds are nature’s little nomads; they travel across the breadth of Belize, similarly soaring through the Petén region of Guatemala and Southern Mexico. All converge at the sanctuary which serves as an important breeding hub. In total, 276 bird species have been spotted at Crooked Tree Wildlife Sanctuary, of which is Jabiru is perhaps the most notable.

Wetlands help to minimize the effects of storm damage and flooding. When the Belize River is flooded, this reserve acts as an overflow basin.

FACT: Crooked Tree was first settled in 1750 by the British and became an important site for the extraction of logwood. From logwood, a total of seven different dyes were produced for export to Europe. Crooked Tree is likely the earliest inland European settlement in Belize.

Sarstoon Temash National Park (1994)

Sarstoon Temash was formally designated in May, 1994 as a National Park. In total, the park stretches across over 41,000 acres. This makes it one of the largest national parks in the country of Belize. Sarstoon Temash is a diverse wetland complex. In it, lies a highly developed riverine mangrove system. Sarstoon Temash is in part managed by the indigenous communities of Southern Belize making it an example of protecting both environmental and cultural diversity.

As for its biodiversity, a total of 386 plant species have been identified within the National Park – many of which are not to be found elsewhere. Similarly, 42 fish species have been identified, 25 or which are marine as well as 226 bird species including the Montezuma Oropendula, the Great Kiskadee, and the Black-headed Trogon.

FACT: In 1989, Sarstoon Temash was found to have the highest populations of Black Howler Monkeys in Belize. One year later, visiting researcher Dora Meyer reported hearing the distinctive call of its relative, the Mantled Howler Monkey. Efforts to locate the Mantled Howler within the reserve however, did not materialize.