There are moments in history that changes the way we see and do things, and this year has been one of many challenges with a moment that have made us revisit our strategies and interventions. The fatal incident that occurred in Caracol has marked, particularly for FCD, that optimum point that we had seen coming for some time. Unfortunately, it had to reach at this point in order for mobilization to occur and we are hoping that as a result an integrated security program will be defined and put into operation for the short, medium and long term. The incident at Caracol is close to us because the stem of the Chiquibul problem is due to the ongoing incursions and extraction of natural and cultural resources that have kept this forest under pressure.

In 1987 a group of intrepid young boys started to visit the Chiquibul Forest – they were members of the Youth Environmental Action Group (YEAG). Their purpose was to learn what Belize had as unspoiled areas. Over the years we have maintained the philosophy that we can authentically love this country only if we learn what it has and what is at risk of being lost. YEAG evolved into FCD and we want to encourage you to visit these wilderness areas and learn what is at risk. For the typical Belizean the Chiquibul is felt to be a dangerous area but that is not entirely true. The Chiquibul Forest comprised of the Chiquibul National Park, Chiquibul Forest Reserve, Caracol Reserve and Vaca Forest Reserve is a large area covering 8% of Belize’s landmass, so there are large wilderness areas that are unspoiled, safe, can be visited and enjoyed.

Saving the Chiquibul Forest and the Greater Maya Mountains will require presence and governance, but this does not alone mean insertion of security forces. There are many ways to create a presence and this can imply the promotion of activities aimed at tourism, education and research. We are confident that the diversification of users and stakeholders, will in fact give more value to this forest and help generate further support for its protection. Nature has its own intrinsic value and just by the nature that God created it – then it needs to be respected and cared; however, we can muster more values from it for the development of the human spirit and dimension. We feel confident that it can be done. The 2003 Chiquibul Symposium and this year’s Telethon has energized us and moved us unto another level of greater enthusiasm and optimism. The outpour of support has been phenomenal and the common denominator shows that Belizeans and friends from abroad care and want to safeguard Belize’s Chiquibul Forest. We are humbled with the support and now more than ever we have more responsibilities to undertake with due diligence.

FCD’s Board and staff, understand the role they play and the heavy responsibilities on our shoulder. I thank these committed individuals and also thank all the Funders, Corporations, Media houses, friends and collaborators that have answered our call. We hope to see you in the Chiquibul Forest soon.

Rafael Manzanero


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