Milpa encroachment continues in Chiquibul Print E-mail
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Thursday, 11 February 2016 00:00

On February 9th 2016, FCD conducted an aerial reconnaissance along the western flank of the Chiquibul National Park with the intent of monitoring and documenting any expansion of the agricultural frontier. On this occasion FCD recorded 17 new clearings and several dwellings. From the small Cessna airplane, large clearings of primary forest were observed. These clearings appear to be fresh indicating that the milpa activity is starting and may progress rapidly as the dry season sets in. Major areas of impact are noticeable on the northern section of the Caracol Archaeological Reserve and on the southern region of the Chiquibul known as Cebada. 

This first flight is just one of several that will be conducted as the dry season progresses. Based on the early impacts, FCD recommends the activation of patrols and operations to suppress the advance. This monitoring flight will help FCD develop the necessary coordination and plans to put into effect the ground effort. Meanwhile in Guatemala the communities located nearby Belize’s border are being informed through radio stations of the penalties imposed in Belize if they are caught making milpas inside the Chiquibul Forest.    

Deforestation as a consequence of agricultural encroachments in the Caracol Archaeological Reserve and Chiquibul National Park, remains one of the main threats to the ecological and cultural integrity of the forest. Based on satellite imagery analysis and interpretation up to October 2015 a total of 3,772.5 ha (9,318 acres) had been deforested. The deforested and impacted area is concentrated along the 45 kilometre western border that the Chiquibul Forest shares with Guatemala. From May 2013 to October 2015 there was a recorded increase of 157.5 ha. in deforested area (an average of 78.75 ha per year).

FCDs aim is to reduce the forest losses this year though it will require a concerted coordinated effort to be effective.