The Friends for Conservation and Development (FCD) has released its damage analysis report of the wildfires in western Belize. The reports revealed that the Vaca, Chiquibul and Caracol Archeological Reserve were the three protected areas impacted by the fire. This means that a total of 22,227.33 acres were engulfed in flames. The executive director of FCD, Rafael Manzanero, broke down the numbers for us.
Rafael Manzannero, Executive Director, Friends for Conservation and Development: In the Chiquibul National Park alone nearly five thousand acres was basically impacted by the forest fires. In the Caracol which of course is a much more smaller area we were able to document quite an extensive area also that was impacted in fact there from our calculations approximately 14% of the extension of the Caracol archaeological reserve was impacted so that was really a large area that was basically consumed by the fires. In fact the acreage there is three thousand two hundred and eighty four to be more specific and in the Chiquibul it was four thousand nine hundred acres approximately that were consumed by the fires. Additionally in the Vaca area which is north of the Chiquibul and north of Caracol the impacted area there was over fourteen thousand acres so in total we’re looking at some twenty two thousand two hundred and twenty seven acres that were impacted by fires. Now something interesting to note is that some of the areas had already been used for agricultural farming so it is not the entire twenty two thousand acres that were virgin forest however the extension of where the fire reached and consumed any vegetation there certainly was that twenty two thousand two hundred and twenty seven acres.”
A survey was conducted which shows that over $100,000 worth of crops, pastures and fences were lost in the Vaca Forest.
Rafael Manzanero, Executive Director, Friends for Conservation and Development: “In the area of Chiquibul and in the area of Caracol certainly there are enough settlements in the zone but in the Vaca only looking at some of the impacts in terms of economical loss. We interviewed thirteen of the farmers in that zone and these are farmers from Benque Viejo, Arenal, Succotz and these thirteen farmers in terms of their losses with crops, with pasture lands and other trees that they would have there like orange trees or other sorts of crops they lost over one hundred thousand dollars and this is only with thirteen farmers. So the impacts were really large and then of course the matter of the health issue was one of the things that was a high concern particularly here in the Cayo district.”
Manzanero explained that the FCD is in the process of developing a fire management plan to deal with forest fires in the region.