Posts Tagged golden stream corridor preserve

Watershed Weekend Preparation

Meandering Rio Grande

Water is an essential part of all life. On Saturday June 26,th 2010, Ya’axché is preparing and will be hosting a fun-filled Watershed Weekend. The main purpose of this event is to raise awareness and educate the communities about Toledo’s watersheds. Interactive and fune learning experiences will actively involve the communities that lie within or buffer the Maya Golden Landscape  (MGL) and to raise awareness of how the quality of their watershed affects the quality of their lives.  

This idea of such an event was first brought up to educate and raise  


awareness among the communities about watersheds. This event is designed to show the importance of fresh water in their communities. Not only are the rivers used for daily washing, bathing, farming and drinking but also play an essential role in maintaining the diversity of wildlife. If these resources are not preserved or managed in a sustainable manner, it then becomes a problem. Rivers serve as a habitat for semi and aquatic vertebrates and invertebrates. You are welcome to participate in this event: learn more about your watershed, have a fun day and see how Ya’axché contributes to watershed protection and management. Most importantly, learn what you can do to improve the quality of water in your community.  

Rio Grande River

The Watershed Weekend promises to be a very fun-filled day but also a very informative one for both children and adults. For the children, activities like water-balloon fights, slip and slide, tug of war, apple-bobbing, trivia and many other water related games will be happening. And not to forget the adults,  we have apple-bobbing games, kayak racing on the Golden Stream River and many other watershed themed games.  

On display will be a big watershed model, real life weird and wonderful river creatures fresh from our neighborhood rivers, and the premier of “Rivers to Reef” and Ajax film highlighting throughout the world the interconnectivity of rivers and watersheds to other ecosystems. Meet Ya’axché rangers who will be giving presentations on Hicatees, the Critically Endangered Central American river turtle and freshwater monitoring techniques. The winner of the Healthy Watershed Poster Design Competition will be revealed and entries displayed; the winning design will be printed onto T-shirts and these T-shirts will be presented to participants in the competition from the schools involved.  

Snacks will be provided. Food and drinks will be on sale provided by Medina Bank Parent Teacher Association to help raise funds. A free bus will be running through the villages of San Miguel, Silver Creek, Indian Creek, Golden Stream, Tambran, Medina Bank, Bladen and Trio for interested persons.  

Mark the 26,th of June 2010 as a must-attend event on your calendar. It promises to be one of massive learning and tons of fun for the family.  

This event was made possible with the aid of the UNDP COMPACT project and the U.S National Fish and Wildlife Foundation (NFWF).


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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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Fire Training for Ya’axché Rangers and Southern Belize Fire Working Group

Ya'axche Ranger at Fire Training

On February 27th and 28th 2010 Ya’axché rangers and other members of the Southern Belize Fire Working Group benefited from a fire management training held at Golden Stream Field Centre, Bladen Nature Reserve and Payne’s Creek National Park. The training was facilitated by experts with extensive experience in fire management: TIDE’s Mario Muschamp and Mr. Oswaldo Sabido. The training focused on ecological concepts, ecosystems, fire classification, fire hazards and management.

On the first day participants were given theoretical training on the application of fire and fire management. Rangers understood the differences between fire influenced, fire dependent and fire independent ecosystems and which are fire dependent savannah and fire influenced broadleaf forest. They were also introduced to the different components of a fire regime for each of these ecosystems and the roles that humans play in influencing these regimes. The use of prescribed fire in protected natural areas, buffer zones and forest reserves was justified by describing the different types of burns, history of fire use, and the appropriate management response in each case.

Lessons were given to understand the basic concepts to understanding and defining fire, identifying the parts of the fire triangle and its role in combustion, understanding the four heat transfer mechanisms and how they influence fire behaviour and fire effects. Not only were they taught to understand but also to be able to explain the components of a wild-land fire, flame characteristics, and the concepts of rate of speed, intensity and total heat release.

Rangers also learned how principal elements of weather determine fire behaviour. Integral to this was the effect of cold fronts, the importance of atmospheric stability to fire behaviour and smoke dispersal during and after prescribed burns. Fire weather knowledge in planning and implementation of prescribed burns which is highly effective was passed on to the participants.

Not only were participants understanding the concepts and importance of fires but also taught fire breaks and ignition techniques to control fire. Rangers were able to differentiate between “soft” and “hard” lines, understand the principles of control line placement, width and accessibility.

Fire in the Fields

Ignition patterns and when and how they are used to produce desired fire effects before identifying ignition devices which can cause wildfires were discussed. Fuel characteristics and types and help to understand the concept of fuel size and dead fuel moisture time lag, real examples were used.

They were also taught contingencies, safety, suppression tactics and mop-up. They learned defining and identifying contingencies such as natural and man-made barriers to fire spread and also identifying potential hazards and the measures which may be taken to mitigate those hazards and suppression tactics for escaped prescribed burns taking into consideration good safe practice that is required in the mop-up process and above all be sure about the level of mop-up needed after different kinds of burns in different conditions.

On day two, February 28th 2010, theory met reality when the team headed to Bladen Nature Reserve. The rangers were prepared with protective clothing and briefed upon initial activities also giving them a lesson on correct usage and safety issues of all the equipment that would be used for the activity.

The team chopped down highly flammable palmetto using machetes since the relative humidity was too high as a precaution. A blackline was placed between two parcels of savannah land when the time seemed suitable. The rangers applied all their skills learned from the previous day of theory classes, ensuring that the fire never escaped. This was accomplished by wetting the periphery using bladder bags and hoses. The blackline was a success, using a combination of theory with the trail and error of practical fire fighting under constant supervision.

The mop-up which consisted of patrolling the periphery raking and flapping and wetting any still burning material and knocking over standing trees which was classified, not safe was conducted at the last stage of the training.

This experience was very valuable and interesting but also this training helped the rangers better understand the use and management of fire especially in Pine Savannahs.

Ya’axché would like to thank Mario Mushchamp of TIDE and Oswaldo Sabido for generously devoting their time to build capacity for protected area management in Southern Belize, and Wildlife Without Borders (WWB) of the United States Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) for providing funds in order for this training to be accomplished.

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Great News for Protected Areas

The following story was extracted from 7 News dated December 22nd 2009. This is great news for the protected areas system in Belize.  Ya’axché thanks to the Government of Belize  for taking action.

From the entire staff at Ya’axché Conservation Trust – Merry Christmas and a Prosperous New Year.

Major Change in Policy on Harvesting of Xate

As we come up on Christmas, Belize – Guatemala issues are at the forefront of the public discourse. And one year ago – it was about the same when Guatemalan Lionel Arellanos erected a storage container in Belizean territory. Remember that? Just west of Jalacte? It took months to get it off! But in February, the BDF did bulldoze it. And while that was 2008, in 2009 – the issues are the ongoing Chiquibul incursions and what the Foreign Minister calls our “artificial” border.

And somewhere beneath all this is the issue of Xate. It’s been a hot button territorial issue for years but tonight we can report that there are two important changes at the policy level in Belize and Guatemala. First, according to Ambassador Fred Martinez, the Guatemalans are changing the requirements for export market Xate – requiring that it be gathered from Xate farms and not forests; and second the government of Belize has put a freeze on all Xate concessions in Belizean territory. Ambassador Martinez discussed both developments with us yesterday.

Ambassador Fred Martinez,
“The xate problem is there, the collection of xate leaves. But we are very pleased to see a development in Guatemala where they have passed legislation to verify from where the xate comes from, that is certify that the xate will only come from farming, the artificial farming of xate, and will no longer be accepted for export if it comes from the picking of the xate in forest. We have pushed that cooperation with them, listen you need to help us because your forests are being decimated just the same as ours and we need to do something. A conscious effort has been taken by them very seriously and now they have introduced that.

The Ministry of Natural Resources recently decided to take a serious look at the licensing of xate picking in Belize as some licenses were issued by the previous administration and continued by this new administration with the argument that if the Guatemalans are coming in and picking it and taking it away, might as well you give the opportunity for a few Belizeans to do some money. But this was the argument by the negotiator, please look at this very seriously: for $60,000 of royalty to the Government of Belize, why do we expose ourselves because these three or four people that end up with a license don’t go and pick up the xate, they hire the same Guatemalan xateros to come into Belize and they are the ones we have to stop, they are the same ones who are creating problems; decimating our forest.

Whose controlling them and when you catch them and they holler that my boss has a license and I have a work permit and when they are caught with a gun, because you are not going to go into that forest with just a small machete, you go there with a gun to protect yourself, the gun is illegal so they are caught with an illegal firearm and so the problem is compounded and we’ve been hollering hey, listen let’s make a review and we are so glad to see that the Forest Department is taking a serious look and saying let’s put everything on freeze.

The next xatero that is caught in the forest of Belize that means it is an illegal xatero, there will be no such thing as someone with a license to collect xate because one xatero was passing the license to another one and subcontracting another one and the next thing you know you had hundreds of Guatemalans pouring in with copies of somebody’s license. So we’ve had to take stock, let us look at what’s there. We are under serious threat of these people moving in. It is not a threat orchestrated by Guatemalan government, they themselves have a serious problem. We therefore have to stop and help ourselves to ensure that we do not end up as the Peten has ended up.”

Hon. Sedi Elrington, Minister of Foreign Affairs
“We have problems down south, Guatemalans come in but the problem is compounded by the fact that local Belizeans employ them so that when they are caught here with the xate and the like they put a permit and say they have a permit from somebody or when they catch them in here and they are doing wrong they say well I am employed by this Belizean, this Belizean hired me. So we are really in a catch 22 situation; Belizeans need the Guatemalans to do the work in their fields, they bring them in, and the process these people come and do their own thing; destroy the society, the land, the forest and everything.”

And while those changes are happening at the policy level – on the ground – the problem persists. When we were in the Chiquibul three weeks ago we saw multiple evidences of Xatero activities, and returning from the border about four kilometres into Belizean territory, the BDF were on the trail of a trio of Xateros but they scattered and ran before the BDF team could intercept them. We couldn’t capture it on tape because the BDF ordered us to get down because of the risk of live fire.

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Ya’axché’s Annual Stakeholder Meeting

Annual Stakeholders Meeting 2009

Last week Saturday 12th of December 2009 Ya’axché celebrated the closing of its 11th year by holding its Annual Stakeholder  Meeting. The meeting offers another opportunity for Ya’axché   to communicate with its most important stakeholders – the communities that buffer the Golden Stream Corridor Preserve and Bladen Nature Reserve. Representatives from Medina Bank, Trio, Tambran, Golden Stream, Indian Creek, Big Falls, San Miguel, Silver Creek, Punta Gorda, Jacintoville and Elridge Village all attended the event making for a great mix of people and personalities.  The general purpose of the meeting was to present to stakeholders the work that Ya’axché has done for the year of 2009 and get feedback for improvement in 2010.

Children playing Musical Chairs

Ya’axché first introduced its program areas: Sustainable Land-use Management, Community Outreach and Livelihoods, Advocacy, Institutional Governance and Management. Accomplishments   in protected area management and research and monitoring were the focus of the Sustainable Land-use discussion. The Community Outreach and Livelihoods discussion brought up the fact that Ya’axché is now working with over 90 farmers in organic, forest-friendly agriculture, in addition to assisting students with high school. The Advocacy program has had a busy year working  with the Toledo Healthy Forest Initiative (THFI), APAMO and BAPPA. The Institutional Governance and Management Program was introduced with a discussion about the Board of Directors- those present were introduced: Alphonso Cal, Barbara Locke, Victor Ical, and President Valentino Shal. The Board is now open to community representatives in Trio and Bladen villages. Trio will have a representative in 2010.

Ya'axché Rangers

The entire Ya’axché staff was introduced to the public as well. There was good discussion on the pressing issues of our time including the Hydro Dam, Illegal Xatéros, water pollution and ways to improve relationship with communities.

Lastly the Financial Statement of 2009 was presented.

After the meeting Ya’axché invited the guests for a traditional Mayan lunch. It was a joyous time of the year and Ya’axché sure did spread a Christmas spirit. The kids also had fun games organized by Ya’axché Volunteers.

It has been a very successful year for Ya’axché Conservation Trust and Ya’axché thanks everyone who have been instrumental in the success of our work. Thanks to All.

Representatives having Lunch

To download Ya’axché’s 2009 Annual Report Click on the following link:

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