INTRODUCTION TO FCD WEBSITE
First I want to welcome and thank you for taking the time to visit us and learn about our multiple programs that are arduously pursued by FCD. In the midst of the rolling hills, Belize's mountainous region, bi-national river system, and rich cultural heritage is found FCD actively engaged to conserve some of Belize's most impressive wonders. Co-managing the largest protected area in Belize, namely the Chiquibul National Park and managing the Chiquibul Cave System considered as the largest of its type in Central America, tagged with our various community development and public outreach programs certainly is a privilege to all of us that comprise the conservation non-profit organization. Yet, the challenges are diverse and complicated.. Day to day we face a dire reality where the flora and fauna are being extirpated. To address the challenges, it is clear to us that a multi-effort must be part of the solution. I want to encourage you, therefore, that as you visit our website, to consider yourself part of this important endeavor which many us are pursuing in our quest to protect the beauty of Belize.
Friends for Conservation and Development (FCD)
FCD is a membership non-profit, non-governmental organization based in Belize, Central America whose primary goal is to motivate the public to protect the environment through conservation awareness while enhancing the development of the human resource. Since its establishment in 1999, FCD has made significant achievements in environmental awareness, protected areas co-management, community support programs, sustainable livelihoods, monitoring, research, policy recommendation, and bi-national cooperation aimed at the protection of the Chiquibul/Maya Mountain Key Biodiversity Area The membership of the FCD Board of Directors come from grassroots organizations in Western Belize, and have a clear conviction to the cause of people-centered natural resources management.
Today, FCD is a respected organization whose role in the national conservation agenda is fully recognized by both the Government and the general public. It continues to build its networking capabilities both locally and internationally, while capitalizing on its strengths as a reputable community-based conservation organization.
FCD Programs Environmental Education (EE)
In pursuit of its mission, FCD has a vibrant EE program primarily in Western Belize where there are over a dozen protected areas.. Its approach has been to conduct a system level effort, understanding that education has to be broad based and to cover all age groups. Using the Pride methodology and the scarlet macaw as the emblematic species representing the Chiquibul-Maya Mountains, the program seeks to promote actions that can protect wilderness areas and the environmental services and goods such as the water resources derived from the Maya Mountains. Promoting corporate responsibility is key as we aim to institute environmental services payments that can help in the management of the protected areas.
Armed with a five year management plan (2009-2013), FCD has a roadmap for the protection of the Chiquibul National Park (CNP), which is the largest protected area in Belize covering more than 264,000 acres of tropical broadleaf forests. In 2007, the Forest Department and FCD entered into a co-management agreement signifying for the first time an actual management of this protected area. Results show that by 2010, FCD had shown a continued increase in the Management Effectiveness Score thus demonstrating the continued success of its co-management role. Yet, this effort needs to be strengthened with the purpose of reclaiming the integrity of the CNP. The primary threats are outlined as agricultural expansion, poaching, non-timber forest product extraction, logging and mineral extraction.
In 2008 the Institute of Archaeology and FCD entered into a co-management agreement for the protection and preservation of the Chiquibul Cave System (CCS). The CCS is the longest and largest known network of caves in Central America. It is nestled in the Chiquibul forest, west central of Belize, with its downstream end extending into Guatemala. Though it begins in the Chiquibul Forest Reserve, most of its extension is located inside the Chiquibul National Park. Over 55 km of passages have been surveyed, including the largest known passage and cave room in the Western Hemisphere. This huge unexplored cave system is the underground bed of the Chiquibul River. The system consists of four big caves and numerous sinkholes, which were extensively explored during the last decade. The caves are known as Kabal, Tunkul, Cebada, and Xibalba. A management plan is currently being developed for this system and the aim is to elevate the status of this system into a World Heritage Site due to its unique formations and cultural heritage worthy of global recognition. FCD conduct frequent monitoring and surveillance activities in this area primarily to learn more about its uniqueness and improve its protection. . Research of the great majority of the cave is still required.
IIn May 2007 a technical work plan agreement was reached with partners from Guatemala with the objective of conducting a joint effort for the conservation of the Chiquibul ecosystem which is found in Belize and Guatemala. Under this work plan seven thematic areas were pursued ranging from training and fundraising to combined patrol and community development. The ultimate purpose was to develop a peace park between Belize and Guatemala that would enable technicians to work and strategize together for the long term conservation of this tract of land. Today this vision is still maintained and as a result several exchange programs are underway with Guatemalan counterparts. The Chiquibul forest contains the headwaters of the largest and most important watershed in Belize, providing and supporting multiple functions such as a reservoir for biodiversity, drinking water, hydro power, agriculture, and recreation opportunities, among others. The CNP is within one of eleven priority areas highlighted under the Sistema Centroamericano de Areas Protegidas (Central American System of Protected Areas) (SICAP). This initiative has emphasized the importance of the addition of the Maya Mountains to the System while recognizing it as a Transboundary Protected Area for Peace and Conservation (WCPA, 2001).
Research is a vibrant program recently started at FCD. Led by a Research Coordinator, the intent is to learn more about the biodiversity of the Chiquibul forest and surrounding buffer areas in order to better manage it. With the development of a Biological Research, Inventory and Monitoring framework (BRIM), it is clear to us the type of studies that are required urgently. Three sets of fundamental knowledge is necessary to us, these include: Study the status, trends and distribution of target habitats and species within the Chiquibul Forest.
Study the impact of the most significant stresses (and sources of stress) on biodiversity and how these can be prevented or mitigated.
Study governance, policy and tools to address biodiversity loss and its impacts.