Friends for Conservation and Development, FCD, issued a release in regards to the state of Illegal Logging in the Chiquibul Rainforest. According to the FCD, “Illegal logging is one of the leading causes of biodiversity loss in the Chiquibul Forest”. In order to determine the extent of the problem, FCD, carried out an assessment between the periods 2010–2012. The assessment showed that millions of dollars worth of wood had been extracted from Chiquibul illegally. FCD says quote, “an estimated total of two million, eight hundred and thirty two thousand, one hundred and ninety five dollars and twenty two cents board feet of Cedar had been extracted with an economical value of four million, two hundred and forty eight thousand, two hundred and ninety three US dollars; while for Mahogany an estimated two million nine hundred and seventy one thousand three hundred and forty three dollars and thirty nine centsboard feet with an economical value of five million one hundred and ninety nine thousand eight hundred and fifty one US dollars had been illegally extracted”, end of quote. FCD says that Guatemalan loggers had primarily been targeting mahogany and cedar, since the two species have a high market value and demand. However, after September 2014, illegal loggings activities decreased significantly. We spoke to FCD’s Executive Director, Raphael Manzanero, on what may have contributed to the decrease.
Raphael Manzanero – Executive Director, FCD
“Our indications show that it can be, it might be as a result of various actions or conditions occurring on the ground. For certain we know that one of the main entrance gates of illegal loggers in the northern part of the Chiquibul was coming from across La Rejolla and those villages. So with the installation of the Valentine Conservation post inside the Caracol Archaeological reserve we estimate that that would be one of the major factors that have been able to deter illegal loggers. Likewise last year for the very first time we engaged with our Guatemalan counterparts in basically funded through the same European Union FAO with associates in Balam across in Guatemala and so they managed to put in some targeted actions that also could have led to the reduction. Based upon the information that we have gathered from Guatemalans this certainly has been able to detain many trucks of illegal logs that have been occurring for the past few months and so we estimate also that would have to do with the reduction in terms of illegal logging that we are observing here in Belize. The other factor is that we do have more rangers in place and there is a more concentrated effort in the Chiquibul as a result of the Danny Connrquie situation that occurred last year. So we believe that the pronounced presence all together really has to do a lot with illegal detainment.”
Overall, a total of eight million, seven hundred and twenty five thousand eight hundred and thirty three feet of lumber have been illegally extracted from the Chiquibul Forest, having an estimated cash value of more than eighteen million US dollars.