The Forest Department under the Ministry of Sustainable Development, Climate Change and Disaster Risk Management held a closing ceremony for the “Selva Maya Natural Resources Protection Project” on Wednesday July 21, 2021. This is a regional project implemented by the countries of Belize, Guatemala and Mexico.
During the closing ceremony, the results and impacts of the project during its 4.5 years of implementation in Belize were presented along with lessons learned and guidelines for the way forward in terms of conservation and sustainable management of the Selva Maya.
Hon. Orlando Habet, Minister of Sustainable Development, Climate Change and Disaster Risk Management, and Mr. Wilber Sabido, Chief Forest Officer, were present and delivered remarks. Virtual presentations were shared by representatives of the International Union for Conservation Network, the German Development Bank (KfW) and Central American Commission for Environment and Development (CCAD) and focused on the improved management effectiveness of the protected areas within the Selva Maya.
The primary goal of the project is to maintain the ecosystem functions and cultural values of the Selva Maya while promoting the wellbeing of its people and providing environmental services of global importance. The Forest Department along with its partners was able to achieve this goal through the implementation of activities that directly impacted management effectiveness and increased connectivity of the protected areas of the Selva Maya. Some of these activities involved updating management plans of protected areas of the Selva Maya which include Elijio Panti National Park, Sarstoon-Temash National Park, Rio Bravo Conservation and Management Area and the Chiquibul National Park; purchasing vehicles, office and field equipment; and the rehabilitation of infrastructure within these protected areas.
This project is the first of its kind to be implemented in Belize. Challenges identified during its implementation included a lack of technical expertise in country, the varied technical capacity of protected areas personnel and the COVID-19 pandemic. The lessons learned, coordination, synergies and improved communication among the three countries will serve to ensure that phase II is also a success.
Funds for phase II of the Selva Maya Natural Resource Project have already been committed and the feasibility study is being completed. This investment is expected to be twice the size of the current project and will expand to other stakeholders and priority areas.
The total budget for phase I of the project, shared between Belize, Guatemala and Mexico, was 12.8 million Euros of which 8 million Euros were financed by the German cooperation through KfW and 4.8 million Euros as co-financing from the protected areas agencies of the participating countries.
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