Archive for What Do We See in This Picture?

Race Against Fire: A Collage

Race Against Fire 2009

2009 Race Against Fire

Here is a photo collage of some of the images from our 2009 Race Against Fire, an annual presentation and community forum on fire awareness and preparedness.  Among the images you can see:

  • The race participants at the start and the winner at the end of the race
  • A wide cross section of the many hundreds of visitors who attended
  • Recipients of our inaugural award recognizing Outstanding Farming Practices and Reduced Fire Use
  • Representatives of the Red Cross, Fire Department, and Traffic Department, all of whose organizations supported the event
  • Participants in the soccer/football and volleyball tournaments
  • Watermelons from one of our three eating contests
  • A traditional Mayan harpist who performed at the event

Below you’ll find an example of the award certificate that was presented to those farmers who had significantly reduced and/or eliminated the use of fire in their field preparations.  Many had also started organic cacao plots, which along with being highly lucrative, are organic and do not require destroying any natural forest.  Along with the certificate, each farmer was awarded a small set of tools useful in cacao harvesting and the recognition of their peers and communities.

We are very thankful to the village of Indian Creek for providing the venue and much of the food for this event.  Our congratulations to the race and competition winners and to those farmers recognized for their outstanding practices!

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Issues in Water Quality Stemming from Lack of a Riparian Buffer

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Compromised Riverbank Integrity

This could be a picture of Anywhere, Belize.  We see the convergence of nature and man, and a river that runs through it all.

This photo was taken recently here during the dry season in southern Belize.  You can see the riverbank sloping upward toward the corn field in the distance.  That there is no natural vegetation separating that field from the riverbank is significant.  Such an area, were it to exist, would be called a riparian (riverbank) buffer and it is crucially important for maintaining the integrity of the river.  They provide a buffer between the activities which occur on land and the riverine environment, reducing the effects of contaminants, nutrients and sediments and moderating run-off to the river.  They control erosion and provide habitat for a variety of species.

On top of that (quite literally) we see a bridge, from which a variety of sediments will run off into the river.  Unnatural sedimentation is also a serious concern in river ecosystems because it may reduce light levels and can smother sensitive plant and animal life that depends on the habitat. This is additionally problematic in coastal areas where marine ecosystems and coral formations are affected.

Riparian deforestation is probably one of the most chronic and wide-ranging of the threats to freshwater integrity in this area. Riparian forests are threatened by a range of land-use activities. Approximately 80% of Toledo’s population is reliant on slash and burn farming, cattle ranching is increasing throughout the region, and the commercial sector is replacing riparian forests with citrus, banana and mango plantations. These forests play an integral role in maintaining ecosystem structure and function. Their loss and fragmentation, particularly along headwater tributaries, is thought to be having considerable impact upon riparian, freshwater, near-shore and reef integrity.

As a result, Ya’axche is beginning to implement a freshwater monitoring program to assess the impact of threats such as these to riverine and marine health.  Stay tuned for updates on this new program of ours!

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