Friends for Conservation and Development (FCD) has advanced more this year as it moved towards consolidating a landscape management program in the Chiquibul-Maya Mountains. This; however, would not have been possible without the support from the many donors and supporters of FCD. I would like to take this opportunity to thank the Protected Areas Conservation Trust for constantly being supportive in strengthening the protected areas system in Belize and in particular the protection of the Chiquibul Forest. Private donors such as Fortis Belize and Harvest Caye have been key to the work of FCD as have our international donors, The Nature Trust of the Americas, USDOI and USFWS who have been instrumental in ensuring their efforts and influence continue. The GIZ Selva Maya started collaborating with FCD this year, which has enabled the binational efforts to be strengthened. This progress would not have been possible without the support of the Government of Belize and in particular the Ministry of Sustainable Development led by Minister Orlando Habet.

At the helm and forefront are the field staff of FCD who earnestly patrol and monitor the flora and fauna of the Western Maya Mountains. These young dedicated men and women have constantly demonstrated that where there is a will, there is a way to safeguard these areas and make a difference. The territory within which FCD operates, requires a high level of commitment and training to withstand the rigors of everyday monitoring. Today, FCD has a conservation influence in approximately 9% of Belize and the work is truly demanding.

Considering all of the above, the effort and influence of FCD is not widely known within the country; thus, the FCD Board has made a targeted focus to communicate more of what it does through the hiring of a Communications Technician tasked with a new website design as well as a more active presence on social media. The Landscape Action Plan also encourages a more open and direct communication with the diverse set of stakeholders to promote a cohesive public participation endeavor. From the farmers in Vaca, to the lodge owners in the Mountain Pine Ridge and western Belize, community leaders in Guatemala and regulatory agencies in Belize – they all are a part of the wider landscape. It is a challenging task to align stakeholder interests while maintaining the integrity of the area, but at FCD we are certain that their involvement is key to success.

As we move towards another year, I would like to thank my colleagues on the Board whose guidance and support has, and is, imperative to the development of FCD. To those who are leaving after their tenure, a heartfelt thank you for your service to the organization and to Belize. To those joining us – I warmly welcome you as we aspire to make FCD more self-sustainable through new vision and technical acumen.

Mick Fleming

FCD Board of Directors


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