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Ya’axche news has moved

Ya'axche news

The new news section of Ya'axche's website

We have now integrated the news into our main website. For the latest news on Ya’axche Conservation Trust, please visit


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Ya’axché Rangers Trained as Special Constables


Special Constable Alejandro Ical (Photo Courtesy Ya'axché)

Last weekend, at a cermony in Punta Gorda Town, Alejandro Ical, a Ya’axché Ranger of Medina Bank was sworn in as a Special Constable by Superintendent Robert Mariano becoming an official member of the Belize Police Department witht the full power of arrest.

Ical, now, joins Ya’axché Head Ranger Marchilio Ack, and Rangers Vigilio Cal, Anignacio Makin, Victor Bonilla, Rosendo Coy, and Ocatavio Cal as Special Constables enforcing natural resource laws in Golden Stream Corridor Preserve and Bladen Nature Reserve. The Ya’axché Rangers take great pride in their work patrolling and enforcing the laws in order to protect Belize’s natural wonders such as Bladen Nature Reserve, the jewel in the crown of the country’s protected areas. The Special Constable Rangers must be upstanding citizens and ambassadors in their communities helping to unite Ya’axché’s work with the  local people with benefits of fresh water, clean air, replenished game stocks and environmentally friendly livelihoods. Ya’axché Special Constables will now volunteer time working with the Police Department in order to familiarize themselves with protocol and procedures from making arrests to prosecuting offenders and keeping a peaceful and safe environment.

Ya'axche's Rangers Special Constables

Thanks to Wildlife Without Borders (WWB) of United States Fish and Wildlife Service for funding the training of Ya’axché rangers.

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YCT increases damage assessment for Toledo protected areas to $147,000-plus

Extracted from Amandala Newspaper
Author: Adele Ramos –
Toledo, Wed. Oct. 28, 2009

The Ya’axché Conservation Trust (YCT) has revised its damage estimates following an August 2009 patrol to assess “illegal damages” blamed on Belize Hydroelectric Development and Management Company Ltd. (BHD) within two southern protected areas: the Bladen Nature Reserve and Columbia River Forest Reserve.

In the mid-week edition of Amandala,  the figures presented tallied to roughly $50,000. However, YCT says that the figure for remediation works alone was $125,000 and not only the $26,700 initially quoted.

“Numerous impacts to the natural and archeological resources of the area were noted to be from forest clearance even on slopes of up to 45° as well as blocked creeks, illegal resource use  and road development,” YCT said in the executive summary of the assessment report. “These activities are of particular consern due to the international biological importance of the area which has been listed as a national focal site for biodiversity conservation.”

The YCT received reports of the illegal clearings in July and a multi-agency patrol including YCT, the Forest Department and the Department of the Environment, visited the area in August.

“It is recommended that BHD cover the estimated $125,000 for the remediation of damage, plus $22,040 for payment to the Government of Belize for expenses incurred to conduct this assessment, plus a fee for the diminished environmental services during the >40-year regeneration period and punitive damages at a fugure set by the Ministry of Natural Resources, ” YCT’s revised report says.

The Government of Belize gave the Belize Hydroelectric Development Company Limited a concession date December 5, 2008. The Forestry Department reportedly gave the company a research permit in October 2009 to enter the protected areas and conduct a feasibility study.

At the time of the clearings detailed above, the company was operating without any approval from the Government to enter and undertake any clearings inside the protected areas. However, there is no indication that the company was fined for undertaking works before applying for the permit.

The company, said the concession, could develop the full hydro potential of the Rio Grande, but in an environmentally responsible manner. In the agreement, the Government of Belize granted BHD the “non-consumptive use” of all water in the Rio Grande – which drains the majestic Maya Mountains – and all its tributaries, upstream of the existing 2.2 megawatt Hydro Maya project at San Miguel, Toledo. This includes the Central River.

The company, in agreement, undertook to establish a minimum of 5 MW of hydro power in Toledo within 5 years. However, it was underscore that the onus is on BHD to apply for permits needed to undertake its work.

GOB claimed, in the document, that the project in in the interest of Toledo and Belize.

In Conejo/Santa Cruz Maya Land Rights Case of 2007, Gregorio Choc, Cristina Coc, and Martin Chen of the Maya Leaders Alliance had complained that the Government had granted a concession to BHD to dam the Rio Grande.

“In the Maya village of San Miguel, the company gained access to 250 acres of village land on which to conduct its activities, including building access roads for heavy machinery and a powerhouse. The villagers were not informed of the effects that this large-scale project will ultimately have on their village lands and traditional practices. Furthermore, consent of the village was not obtained, and no compensation was provided for this compulsory acquisition of Maya lands.”

The Maya of Toledo have an ongoing dispute with the Government of Belize over customary land rights in Toledo. A ruling in that Supreme Court case is pending.

YCT said that the organization had received complaints from villagers in the area that the existing dam, near San Miguel, has been having adverse effects on the river. Environmental authorities have not yet to investigate.

The following map is Ya’axché Property and was inserted in this column for visual aid:

Hydro Maya Dam Situation Toledo Map (291009)pt3

Map courtesy of Ya'axché Conservation Trust

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BOPA Guidelines for Organic Crops

According to the Belize Organic Producers Association, a plan for organic crops must include the following:

  1. A detailed map of the enterprise, a description of the rotation plan and the production plan, a description of changes in the general condition of the soil, and ongoing monitoring of the soil condition
  2. A detailed description of the sources of seed, seedlings, including seed inoculants, germplasm, scions, rootstock and other propagules, production methods and related problems with production
  3. A description of the cultivation techniques and the types of machinery and equipment used; a profile of erosion risks and proposed corrective measures
  4. A description of the fertilization program, including origin and source  of manure, storage and handling techniques, quantity applied, application period and composting methods; a description of other production methods aimed at increasing organic matter, such as green manure crops and harvest residue management and a plan to prevent the leaching of breakdown products of liquid and solid manure
  5. A detailed listing of all production inputs and the justification for their use
  6. A description of the watershed on the enterprise and the measures to prevent exposure of contact with prohibited substances; a description of the sources and the quality of water used for irrigation
  7. A description of crop protection issues and management strategies; a description of progblems with past practices, if applicable
  8. A description of potential sources of exposure or contact with prohibited substances; concerns associated with neighboring areas and buffer zones; in cases where the enterprise is not fully converted to organic production, a description of the managment system to maintain orgaic integrity
  9. A description of the facility’s managemnt plan for the storage and handling of organic inventory, and the steps or procedures taken to prevent the commingling of organic and any non-organic stocks taht may be present

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Originally uploaded by Peder with a D

Welcome to the Ya’axche Conservation Trust weblog. We will be using this site to bring you the latest news, stories and images from our organization.

Our organization is a Belizean non-governmental organization (NGO) committed to the environmental and economic sustainability of our local lands and neighboring communities. Our community-oriented organization strives to advance integrated landscape management (considering commercial, agricultural and environmental needs) for the equitable development of southern Belize.

I thought I’d start off by sharing this picture of me, your friendly blogger. I snapped this shot as some colleagues and I were headed out of Punta Gorda to a board meeting with our Mayan community leaders about an hour northwest of town on the Southern Highway. In the background there is the Bay of Honduras in the Caribbean Sea.

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