Gold panning in the Chiquibul

Belize is blessed with water resources that appear to be abundant. This resource has primarily been safe for human use, despite the multiple debris, sediments and particles that are thrown into it. The human impacts on the rivers and streams can be seen obviously where human settlements occur. FCD is concerned of the stability of the water resources and as a result has put much interest in building the capacities of the binational watershed alliance. However, one dramatic and atrocious activity occurring on the main headwaters of the Greater Belize Watershed, namely on the highest peaks of the Chiquibul is the illegal gold panning conducted by Guatemalans.

FCD over the years have put into action several interventions including aggressive patrols, construction of a conservation post, and sharing information with Guatemalan counterparts. But none has been able to contain the wave of Guatemalans doing gold panning.

Pictures cannot clearly depict the impacts. To understand the magnitude of the problem, one has to be on the ground to see it. The incessant activities are having a major impact on the integrity of the Chiquibul headwaters. At this point gold panners operate at night, in remote and rugged areas making it difficult to reach ground zero.

FCD is desperate to explore new ways of controlling this problem. If you have any key recommendation or bright idea to share please write us at fcd@btl.net


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