Archive for March, 2009

Ya’axche is on Facebook

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Facebook

Come check out our new Ya’axche profile on one of the world’s leading social networking sites, Facebook. With this page we hope to draw more attention to the important work we’re doing.  By signing up you’ll be sure to receive the latest news and developments from our organization, as they happen!

Not only do we manage the conservation efforts and ranger operations of two of Belize’s protected areas (including the crown jewel, the Bladen Nature Reserve), but we are the country’s leader in Integrated Landscape Management, a revolutionary planning system that incorporates environmental, soci0-economic and political/governmental agents into the long-term planning process for a landscape.

You’ll need to be a member of the site in order to view, so if you’re new to Facebook register here.

Then come check out our other profiles throughout the World Wide Web!

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Ya’axche Story Published in World Water Stories

Updating a previous post, a story on the importance of fresh water written by two Ya’axche rangers was recently published in “World Water Stories (PDF),” a publication of the Global Water Network.

We’d like to thank the Global Water Network for considering us, and congratulate our rangers on a story well written!

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Ya’axche Apprehends Illegal Xate Harvesters

Yesterday, the pristine Bladen Nature Reserve, the “jewel” in the crown of Belize’s terrestrial protected areas, was the site of a huge illegal xaté bust. Ya’axche forest rangers, in partnership with the Police and Forest Departments, arrested 16 xatéros and confiscated a huge quantity of leaves.

Xatéros with Illegal Xaté

Xatéros with Illegal Xaté

Apprehended in a region called “Matacion” between Trio Village and the Bladen Nature Reserve, the xatéros were quickly brought to the police station in Independence for questioning. Ya’axché rangers were tipped off to the xatéros’ presence when they approached the Bladen Nature Reserve Ranger Base on the morning of Monday, March 23, and presented a license to harvest xaté in surrounding Forest Reserves. The xatéros left after being informed that their license was not valid for Bladen Nature Reserve. However, a routine ranger patrol on Tuesday found signs of xaté collection within the protected area. Several square miles within Bladen Nature Reserve had been stripped of xaté, as well as a large area of the renowned Cockscomb Basin Wildlife Sanctuary. On Wednesday, March 25, two patrols, including a police officer, a Forest Officer and nine staff from Ya’axché set out to find the culprits. Around 1:00 pm they encountered the xatéros with a cache of 26 bales of xaté. Each bale held 70 bundles, totaling approximately 72,800 leaves harvested.

Stripped of All but One Leaf

Decimated Xaté

Healthy Xaté

Healthy Xaté

Although they had been operating under a valid license for extracting xaté within nearby protected areas, they had no right to be extracting within Bladen or Cockscomb. As such, the Forest Department reacted fast by questioning the concessionaire, from Cotton Tree village outside Belmopan, who admitted that some of his Guatemalan employees may have collected xaté outside of their concession.

Over 18,000 Plants Were Destroyed

Over 18,000 Plants Were Destroyed

Camp Along Bladen River Where Xate Was Bundled

Camp Along Bladen River Where Xate Was Bundled

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Local Food Fair

Written by Julio Chub, Ya’axche Community Outreach Officer

Ya'axche Participates in the 4th Annual Food Fair

Ya'axche Participates in the 4th Annual Food Fair

Last Friday the Toledo District School Feeding Program Committee held its Fourth Annual Food Fair in Punta Gorda Town. The main purpose of the Fair was mainly to give the schools with feeding programs and garden projects the opportunity to gain recognition as well as to promote the programs the schools undertake while in search of sustainability.
Ya’axche was invited to the event and the following were arranged and displayed at the booth.

Since Ya’axche is focusing its work on building communities capacities to start up and manage small business, few of these small businesses that deal with food were invited to participate in the Food Fair while Ya’axche pays for the booth, transportation and some snacks for the day.

During the past 10 years, Ya’axche held several training for women from the buffer communities in the preparation of food and drinks using organically grown vegetables in the backyard gardens. The backyard gardening was also a part of the agro forestry system with growing Cacao organically for export. In addition fruit and timber trees were also combined in the agroforestry system which was all promoted under the Community Outreach and Livelihoods Program of Ya’axche.

Attendees Learn About Agroforestry

Attendees Learn About Agroforestry

Several of the participants from these trainings continue to use and practice what they learned. Mrs. Sarita Oliva from Big Falls was taken to the food fair to demonstrate how to make chaya juice. Mrs. Teresa Co from Golden Stream made cassava flour, cacao powder and even some homemade chocolate. In addition to this Mrs. Vilma Shol was invited from the village of Golden Stream display coconut oil and yellow ginger.

Mrs. Maria Coc is the wife of a Cacao farmer from Golden Stream who is expanding his farm into a diverse agrofrestry plantation. Ya’axche invited his wife to display and sell root crops (yam, cassava, etc.), fruits, plantain, cacao, coffee beans, and other food products from their farm.

The Medina Bank Organic Vegetable Producers were also taken to participate in the Food Fair to demonstrate use of compost and a drip irrigation system in organic vegetable production.

While all these groups and individuals displayed and sold their products, Ya’axche explained the linkages between biodiversity conservation and sustainable development.

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Finding the Scarlet Macaw

Anignazio Makin searches for Scarlet Macaws with Dr. Mark McReynolds

Ranger Anignacio Makin searches for Scarlet Macaws with Mark McReynolds

Written by Nathaniel Miller, Ya’axche Protected Areas Manager

Last Thursday Ya’axche rangers accompanied scarlet macaw researcher Mark McReynolds into Bladen Nature Reserve — the Jewel of Belize — joining him for his transect monitoring.

While the rangers learned more about macaws and research work Mr. McReynolds is doing, they demonstrated their immense local knowledge of bird identification and even taught Mr. McReynolds a few exotic calls.

Mr. McReynolds is studying Macaws all over Belize and doing the country a great service in providing more information on this endangered and understudied bird.

Scarlet Macaws in Red Bank, Belize (photo by Mark McReynolds)

Scarlet Macaws in Red Bank, Belize (photo by Mark McReynolds)

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Proposed Legislation Strengthens Role of Private Protected Areas

The Ya’axché Conservation Trust, with support from the Belize Association of Private Protected Areas (BAPPA) and with the participation of the Association of Private Area Management Organizations (APAMO) and the National Protected Areas Commission (NPAC), finalized two pieces of proposed legislation:

  • National Park Systems (Amendment) Act
  • Conservation Covenant Act

The first bill intends to amend Chapter 215 of the National Park Systems Act (PDF) aims to give legal recognitions to private protected areas (PPAs). The recognition of PPAs in instrumental in filling the gaps within the Belizean national park system. Under this amendment PPAs can be designated either a wildlife sanctuary or a national park with the same rules and restrictions that are place on the public protected areas of the same category (PDF of Protected Area Categories). The designation will be made upon the recommendation of the national authority of protected areas management, and will have to meet strict criteria.

The second piece of proposed legislation, the Conservation Covenant Act, will facilitate private initiatives for land owners to restrict the use of their lands to conservation purposes only, and will provide specific incentives to those individuals with lands along rivers and watersheds.

The campaign for political and legislative support to enact these new laws will be lead by BAPPA.

Ya’axché’s Executive Director, Ms. Lisel Alamilla played a leadership role in coordinating these legislative proposals.

Funding for the development of this proposed legislation was made available via the UNDP/GEF project, Integrating Protected Area and Landscape Management in the Golden Stream Watershed, and is being implemented by Ya’axche’ Conservation Trust and our long-standing partner Fauna & Flora International.

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Flying with LightHawke

Last week Ya’axche staff had the opportunity to fly over its protected lands in a single-prop plane … a service provided by LightHawke.  We had a variety of tasks to accomplish, from charting river systems to monitoring land use adherence to identifying new threats and illegal farming incursions.

LightHawke offers a unique product in the conservation sphere.  By providing flight time to conservation organizations and other groups, they give a completely new perspective on the impact of local initiatives.  They are a US company, but operate quite extensively in Central America and the Caribbean.

So here’s some of what we saw over our protected areas:

Coastal Broadleaf Forest Extending to the Maya Mountain Foothills

Coastal Broadleaf Forest Extending to the Maya Mountain Foothills

Cockscomb

Cockscomb Range at the Top of the Maya Mountains

Patchwork Landscape from Slash & Burn Agriculture and Logging

Patchwork Landscape from Slash & Burn Agriculture and Logging

The Look of Illegal Logging

The Look of Illegal Logging

Your Ya'axche Comms Officer

Your Friendly Ya'axche Comms Officer

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