Guatemala and Belize: Transboundary efforts to reduce illegal logging
Public officials and non-governmental organizations in Guatemala and Belize teamed up to reduce cross-border, illegal logging between the two countries. The initiative included collaborative actions with NGOs, border municipalities and the national government. The work was carried out by the Asociación Balam in Guatemala, Friends for Conservation and Development (FCD) in Belize and the Governments of Guatemala and Belize.
The Department of Peten, Guatemala hosts significant protected areas including the cross-border Chiquibul-Maya mountain region that reaches into Belize. Increased institutional collaboration in northern Peten to reduce illegal logging and improve forest governance, however, led to an increase in illegal forest activities in the south. Asociación Balam in Guatemala, Friends for Conservation and FCD joined forces to counter this challenge.
“This project has helped reduce illegal logging and improve forest governance in the south of Peten through multi-sectoral coordination between the Government, civil society and municipal authorities,” says Byron Castellanos of Asociación Balam. “The quantity of illegal timber confiscated in the region has doubled since the start of this project, particularly the seizure of ‘Rosul’ wood.”
“Thanks to the FLEGT funds there has been a pronounced, ongoing effort to understand and address illegal logging across borders,” adds Rafael Manzanero of FCD. “The initiative has been innovative since it seeks to not only address the problem internally with improved law enforcement but also across our borders with Guatemala through a program of joint strategic moves that includes data sharing, governance, policy advocacy and stakeholder participation.”
Asociación Balam and FCD will continue to support the public ministries to carry out specialized investigations to dismantle criminal activity tied to illegal trafficking of timber in the region.
“The next steps to address forest governance are to consolidate strategies between FCD and its counterparts in Guatemala; further inclusion and collaboration among agencies of the State, increase penalties that can serve as a deterrence for the illicit acts, improved institutional presence across the landscape and the development of alternative livelihood programs in poverty ridden Guatemalan communities,” says Manzanero.
Castellanos adds, “During the next phase of the project, we need to build on our efforts and strengthen the task force against illegal logging, consolidate the National roundtable against illegal logging and make sustained efforts between Guatemala and Belize to stem illegal logging.”
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last updated: Tuesday, December 16, 2014