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PACT Affected by the Pandemic Says the Executive Director

As Caribbean governments battle the coronavirus on multiple fronts, here at home, several organizations are feeling the brunt of the pandemic. For the Protected Areas Conservation Trust (pact), the organization has had its financial coffers affected. PACT which is the national conservation trust that redistributes revenue throughout the National Protected Areas System (NPAS) is financed through three main revenue generators. Those sources are derived from the conservation fee levied on foreigners who exit the country, a fifteen percent commissioner on the head tax charged for cruise ship visitors, and donations and grants. According to Executive Director, Nyari Diaz Perez, PACT has seen a decline in revenue due to the tourism industry coming to a halt, but they have managed to tough it out.

Nyari Perez, Executive Director, PACT: “Over the last year we saw a sharp decline in revenues as did most organizations that depend largely on revenue generated from tourism. However over the years we’ve been able to maintain reserves that have been able to complement the funds that we have been generating via other means and so it is that pool of resources that has enabled us to be able to maintain our commitments and continue our important work of funding the protected areas management in Belize over the last year and that is how we will continue as well to mobilize additional resources to continue our work. I think one of the more important things to note as well is that through the financing support provided by PACT to the protected areas and through our partners which are largely non governmental conservation organizations during the last year and into this year has been the enabling of these organizations being able to maintain their staff, maintain presence in the protected areas to continue doing their work especially given the pandemic and the effect it has had on tourism revenues that these areas will traditional benefit from. With PACT being there to provide the funding and respond to their needs over the last year and a half we have been able to ensure that the benefits that these protected areas are providing not just to the communities around them but ecosystem services that they provide as well are sustained throughout such a critical time that we’re living in recently.”

Perez says that while the pandemic has had a negative impact on the organization, many of the protected areas have benefitted from the break-in human activity.

Nyari Perez, Executive Director, PACT: “Definitely the pause in tourism activity has benefitted from an environmental and ecological standpoint the protected areas system as they got a break so to speak from the human traffic that would normally be around these protected areas. So some of these sites have been able to recover if you will and at the same time it has allowed for the organizations and us who are working on these protected areas as well to better plan for the return of tourism and prepare for the return of tourism activity.”