Government Addresses Illegal Logging Concerns Near Guatemala Border

Government Addresses Illegal Logging Concerns Near Guatemala Border

The government says it continues to combat illegal logging in the country’s forest reserves that run along its border with Guatemala. This week, the Belize Territorial Volunteers unearthed what they say is a major illegal logging operation in the Columbia Forest Reserve. The group discovered several trees cut down and a road leading into Guatemala. The group is calling on the government to urgently intervene and resolve the issue. Prime Minister John Briceno says, however, that the government must ensure it takes proper measures to resolve matters that occur near the adjacency zone. 

Hon. John Briceño, Prime Minister of Belize: “I have not been briefed on that but we constantly in the National Security Council meetings we get briefs of incursions of Guatemalans in Belize and in many instances they are illegally cutting our trees. It is something that we have to handle delicately simply because of the agreement that we have through the OAS that we have to go through a lengthy process of having the OAS verifying whether they’re within our land. What we have done at the last meeting in our frustration we have said that whenever the OAS have already identified a point to say that is Belize and anything that happens east of that obviously is Belize we don’t have to wait for the OAS to come in and verify that is why this time around we told the BDF go and break down those bridges that were built over some of the creeks and be able to confiscate anything that we see beyond those points that have already been identified by the OAS as being within the country. We just need to continue at it, we can’t stop. It’s unfortunate that on the Guatemalan side the oligarchy has taken up pretty much all of the land and the poor people, the farmers, the people living in the rural areas don’t have land, don’t have access to land and on the other side on the Belize side they see this lush forest and they want to come in. We are going to do everything to protect our land.”

Another group that says the country’s natural resources are at risk is the Belize Peace Movement. Last week, the group stated that it received reports of a possible de-reservation of lands in the Maya Mountain Forest Reserve. Today, we asked PM Briceno about the reports and he said he wasn’t aware of such a venture. 

Hon. John Briceño, Prime Minister of Belize: “The de-reservation it has not come to me as yet. Certainly it’s something that the Ministry of Sustainable Development would have to take a look and decide because from time to time there are areas then that no longer need to be kept as a reserve and I remember during my time we dereserved an area and reserved another area so kinda keep the same amount of land. I think we did that with Payne’s Creek the national park back then. So it has not come to me yet but I’m certain that Minister Habet will inform me at the appropriate time if that’s what they’re planning to do.”

The reports come after bridges leading to Guatemala were discovered in the Mountain Pine Ridge Forest Reserve and later destroyed.

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