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New South Cebada Conservation Post



June 15, 2018 — (Belmopan, BZE) Yesterday, June 14, 2018, the Protected Areas Conservation Trust (PACT) along with the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries, Forestry, the Environment, Sustainable Development and Immigration (MAFFESDI), the Ministry of National Security, and the Friends for Conservation and Development (FCD) inaugurated a new Conservation Post in the South Cebada area of the Chiquibul National Park. 

Government, NGO and Financing Partners at the Inauguration of the Cebada CP, June 14, 2018  
On hand for the inauguration was a delegation of Ministers, Chief Executive Officers, and Heads of Department led by Hon. Dr. Omar Figueroa, Minister of Environment and Hon. John Saldivar, Minister of National Security. The South Cebada Conservation Post was financed through the Chiquibul Forest Investment Initiative (CFII) at a cost of BZ$115,000. The CFII was launched in 2016 and represents the single largest investment in the protection and conservation of Belize’s biodiversity. 

The $2.28 Million being invested by PACT and the Environmental Management Fund is aimed at addressing key threats from illegal land use practices in the Chiquibul Forest by strengthening multi-institutional capacity. The CFII is being implemented by a consortium of partners, namely the FCD, Ya’axché Conservation Trust, the Belize Forest Department, and the Belize Defence Force. The CFII investment focus spans the Chiquibul National Park, Chiquibul Forest Reserve, Vaca Forest Reserve, Columbia River Forest Reserve, Bladen Nature Reserve, and Mountain Pine Ridge Forest Reserve.

The Conservation Post at South Cebada is 20’ x 33’ in size and was designed to accommodate an enforcement team of 12. Its main features include sleeping quarters, outdoor kitchen, hygiene facilities, a water catchment system, a photovoltaic solar power system and a 25’ lookout tower. This is the second Conservation Post financed through the CFII with the Caballo CP built and inaugurated just last year. Hon. Dr. Omar Figueroa, during his address noted that “with the two conservation posts financed through the CFII the number of CPs in the Chiquibul now stands at seven (7).

Cebada Conservation Post, June 14, 2018

Coupled with the enforcement stations in the Mountain Pine Ridge Forest Reserve and Bladen Nature Reserve, these CPs will form a more robust network of permanent outposts in the Chiquibul Forest geared towards biodiversity protection and security”. While the conservation posts and access roads have added much needed infrastructure in the Chiquibul, the CFII has contributed far more at improving the dialogue and coordination among consortium partners. The Initiative continues to contribute necessary human resources and capacity. From the consortium alone, a total of 34 trained enforcement personnel has been made available to support biodiversity conservation in the Chiquibul along with the BDF and Police. As a direct output, a 43% increase in ranger force translating to at least 50% increase in enforcement efficiency has been realized after just the first year of implementation. PACT would like to extend a heartfelt thank you to all consortium members, enforcement teams, and partner agencies for their service to this country through their hard work and their pledge to defend the biodiversity and integrity of these protected areas. Also, we would like to express our gratitude to the FCD, Ministry of Environment, and the Ministry of National Security for key technical and logistical support towards the success of the inauguration ceremony and the wider initiative.


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 effective management of Belize’s National Protected Areas System (NPAS) through strategic partnerships and high impact investments. The PACT is managed by a Board of Directors that is comprised of Government agencies, non-government organizations and individual experts.

Entering La Selva Maya: The Chiquibul Challenge Marathon

La Selva Maya

‘La Selva Maya’ (the Maya forest) is today recognized as one of the largest, intact rainforests within Central America. An impartial witness to the passing ages and actions of men, it has outlived both the ancient Maya groups of the classic period and the early twentieth-century logging camps that had once traversed its length. Today, the Chiquibul is formally recognized as a protected area and forms a key part of the Mesoamerican Biological Corridor. In addition to serving as a physical record of the various periods of Belize’s history, it is a natural habitat that supports the biological diversity of the region’s plants and animals. Unfortunately, the biological diversity the Chiquibul supports has also made it a target for poachers, illegal logging, mineral extraction and the extraction of non-timber forest products.

The Challenge

Over the weekend, PACT organized a team of 5 staff members and sponsored two members of Channel 5’s media house to enter the first annual Chiquibul 20/40k Marathon to raise awareness for the Chiquibul and support their friends in conservation. The marathon trail ran through forest cover – on medium to course terrain – starting off from Guacamayo bridge through to Las Cuevas Research Station, some 12.5 miles away. Participants were given the option of entering as a 20 K marathon challenger, or 40 K challenger. A special competition was created for rangers of protected areas to also compete. Organized by the Belize Wildlife and Referral Clinic (BWRC), the concept of the Challenge was simple: engage the public by offering an opportunity to connect with nature and celebrate fitness while fundraising and directing attention to the causes of both the Friends for Conservation and Development (FCD) – who co-manage the Chiquibul Forest and National Park, and the Belize Wildlife and Referral Clinic, who between them manage the Scarlet Macaw Protection Program.

This being the first annual Chiquibul Challenge Marathon, the response was triple what organizers, Dr. Isabelle Paquet-Durand and Justin Ford of the BWRC had expected. Speaking at the award ceremony yesterday, Dr. Isabel was optimistic and grateful for the overwhelming support from the local NGO and business community, as well as private citizens. Rafael Manzanero, the Director of FCD, was equally bolstered by the response of the public for the first initiative. PACT, for its part, was happy to participate as both a sponsor and support to raise awareness for both of these organizations that together, champion the cause of protection and conservation or Belize’s natural heritage.

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.