FCD representatives meet with Guatemalan authorities for “linkup” patrols along the border

Saturday, July 16th, 2022

On the 5th and 7th of July, a first-of-its-kind meeting between Belizean natural and cultural resource managers took place with their Guatemalan counterparts, including villagers along the border in the Chiquibul National Reserve. The encounter paved the way for the first combined linkup patrols consisting of Belizeans and Guatemalan representatives. According to information from the Friends of Conservation and Development (FCD), the first joint patrol occurred in the Retiro area, adjacent to the Guatemalan village of San Jose las Flores. A second patrol happened in Valentin, Caracol Archaeological Reserve, adjacent to the Guatemalan village of La Rejoya.

The FCD stated that La Rejoya and San Jose las Flores are considered hotspot areas of permanent threat over the resources of the Chiquibul. Over the years, these communities have degraded the forest, and as a result, action has been taken against those involved in illicit activities ranging from poaching, farming, and illegal logging. According to the FCD, the key objective of these combined patrols is to enable natural and cultural resource managers to discuss the challenges faced, have community members present to understand first-hand the implications and inspect areas where cattle farming is impacting the forest.

During the exercise, the community members agreed that the forest is essential, and they understood the Chiquibul Forest is a national park protected by Belize. It was also agreed that fires are a present threat.

The Guatemalan delegation participating in the activity included the Environmental Police, National Commission of Protected Areas, local alcalde, and other invited community members. The Belize representation consisted of the Belize Defence Force service members, the Institute of Archaeology, Special Patrol Police Unit, Chiquibul Park Rangers, and the Chiquibul Park Manager.

The linkup meetings lasted one hour at the border point of each region, where the authorities from Belize dialogue with their Guatemalan counterparts. The environmental impacts were the main subject of discussion. It was established that the Belizean authorities will continue cutting illegal fences and evacuating cattle from Belize and will pursue programs to reforest the area. The Guatemalan villagers clarified that the fences and cattle owners are not from their communities near the border.

The meetings were cordial and sparked new hopes for an open collaboration dialogue. FCD acknowledges the assistance of organizations such as the GIZ Selva Maya Programme, Protected Areas Conservation Trust, US Fish and Wildlife Service, and the US Department of the Interior-ITAP for making these programs possible.


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