Archive for April, 2010

Ya’axché Celebrating Earth Day

Indian Creek Primary School Students

Today is Earth Day and to celebrate this movement, Ya’axché along with partners planted trees and held a clean-up campaigns. Ya’axché focused its campaign on the primary schools from seven buffering communities.

Ya’axché donated trees to Southern Environmental Organization (SEA) and Toledo Institute for Development and Environment (TIDE) for their Earth Day activities. An addition of 34 schools were involved in the tree planting and cleanup activities, in southern Belize, lead by Educators who are part of the Education Alliance: SEA, TIDE and Plenty Belize. SEA planted trees for their earth day with other activities. TIDE painted a mural at the St. Peter Claver primary school and also planted trees around the school ground to show and remind the importance of conservation.

Medina Bank Primary School Students Planting Trees

The seven buffer communities (Medina Bank, Golden Stream, Indian Creek, Big Falls, San Miguel and San Pedro Columbia) participated in the Earth Day activities that Ya’axché organized. Ya’axché and volunteers assisted in the success of Earth Day activities today. Firstly, Ya’axché Outreach Officer and Sustainable Land-use Management Program (SLMP) volunteers held an open discussion with the students about the importance of Earth Day and primarily conservation on a daily basis. After the discussion the children were invovled in a cleanup activity around their school. Lastly, the students planted trees around the school compound ending with a small presentation on Earth Day as an everyday practice that the young generation should be involved in .

Education & Outreach Officer talking to students

Ya’axché is happy to say that Earth Day in the seven primary schools was a success. Happy Earth Day, long live planet Earth!!!

Golden Stream Primary School

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Bladen Nature Reserve Field Trip for Students

BNR Management Zones

The Bladen Nature Reserve is one of the most pristine areas and has the highest level of protection in Belize. Ya’axché organized field trips for primary school students from buffering communities and also for high school students, but it was not a regular field trip, it was to educate young students about the Bladen Nature Reserve.

By law, the Bladen Nature Reserve allows only two things to happen inside its boundaries which are research and education. The reserve is divided into two zones, a natural environment zone and a preservation zone. In the natural environment zone only research and education may occur but in the preservation zone no one is regularly permitted to engage in any activity. The Bladen Nature Reserve is a no take protected area.

The Bladen River is the river that runs north-easterly through the nature reserve with is also classified as the mother of the Monkey River Watershed which feeds into nearby rivers and the Port Honduras Marine Reserve.  

On March 30th 2010 rangers along with teachers from Medina Bank, Indian Creek, and Golden Stream primary schools and Ya’axché volunteers took 49 students and on March 31st 52 students into the nature reserve. Not only were students given the opportunity to explore, but the trip also provided an opportunity for the rangers to practice their strategies of communication, as rangers are look at by Ya’axché as local teachers and ambassadors of Ya’axché who engage in hands-on environmental education. The ranger had open discussions with the children to better understand the roles that rangers play to manage such a huge area with rich biodiversity.

Through this practical adventure, the elementary students were able to observe the pristine and invaluable resources of the nature reserve. This activity directly involved the future decision makers of the three buffer communities, hopefully influencing their relationship with managing the communities natural resources sustainably.

Ya'axche ranger Explaining the importance of pristine rivers

Various situations encountered within the nature reserve were used as “teachable moments” to relate to problems posed to it. The rustic road entrance was used to illustrate the likely hood of impacts and threats posed not only by the surrounding communities but by anyone since it is accessible.  The Pine Savannah and the boundary line was used to discuss prescribed burning to prevent the spread of wild fires from Pine Savannahs. Rangers also talked about nutrient cycles, forest structure, pollution and littering, erosion control, seed dispersion, healthy water systems and the importance of wildlife.

Students were brought to the Blue Pool to show the importance and beauty of pristine waters which affect reefs because of their interconnectivity.

Through these field trips Ya’axché focused on educating the teachers and the future decision makers – students, about the value of effectively managed community natural resources. By spending time within the most pristinely conserved area of the Toledo District, the students and educators were able to observe the interconnectedness between their use of resources outside the nature reserve and what happens within Bladen Nature Reserve.

On April 1st 2010 26 high school students attended the field trip, with a Ya’axché  ranger and Education Outreach Officer. Ya’axché hopes to enable the students to become stewards of conservation in their communities, and give them training and skills they need to continue on in the path of environmental education.

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Freshwater Bio-monitoring in Southern Belize

Freshwater Bio-monitoring

Freshwater bio-monitoring is integral to watershed management throughout the developed world. Nonetheless, many tropical developing countries, including Belize, lack formal procedures and methods for monitoring and managing water quality. Therefore, we are pleased to announce that, with funding from Rufford Small Grants Foundation, Ya’axché will be facilitating research to develop cost-effective bio-monitoring systems for tropical rivers.

This research will investigate natural biological variability and variation in response to anthropogenic impact to contribute to the development of monitoring tools that are able to indicate river health. It will provide a crucialcomponent to the development of standardized and cost effective methods, allowing those interested in the management of freshwater ecosystems to monitor impacts and evaluate the effectiveness of management activities.

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