On Monday December 6, 2010, the Sarstoon Temash Institute for Indigenous Management (SATIIM) with funding from the Global Environmental Facility Trust Fund, which supports the Development Marketplace 2009 Global Competition, launched a project in Toledo entitled “ Building Q'eqchi' Maya Capacity, Flexibility, and Adaption to Climate Change through Community-based Sustainable Forest Management" in Belize.
The launching was held at the Father Ring Parish Hall and included the participation of stakeholders from the buffer communities of the Sarstoon Temash National Park, local NGO’s and representatives from the Government. The guest speaker for the event was Minister Peter Eden Martinez. Other speakers includedSATIIM’s executive Director, Gregory Ch’oc; Mr. Marcelo Windsor from the Forest Department, Ministry of Natural Resources; the Alcalde of Crique Sarco; Luis Cho, the Chairperson of the Community-Based Sustainable Forest Enterprise (CBSFE) in Conejo;Chairman of CBSFE in Santa Teresa xxxxxx; John Makin; and a presentation of the project was given by SATIIM’s Programs Manager,Lynette Gomez.
The objective of the project is to “diminish the effects of poverty and environmental degradation afflicting rural indigenous Maya communities by promoting community-based sustainable forest management enterprise.” SATIIM believes that stimulating communities for community-based sustainable enterprises that are linked to conservation, environment and forest management provide a long term solution for communities and also mitigates climate change. As a part of the project, SATIIM will:
Assist the community organization;
Facilitate technical and administrative trainings;
Assist in Forestry planning and the development of Forest management plans and annual plans of operations for sustainable forestry;
Facilitate sustainable harvesting utilizing reduced impact logging techniques, a key element of Sustainable Forest Management (SFM) which maintains economically viable log yields, improves the condition of regenerating forests and alleviates negative environmental effects; and
Pursuing equitable and competitive commercialization of products.
Posted: 03/06/2011 - 11:52 AM
Author: Gregory Ch’oc
Hon. Peter Eden Martinez
Minister of Human Development and Social Transformation
June 1, 2011
Hon. Juan Coy
Minister of State
Ministry of Human Development
Dear Hon. Eden Martinez and Hon. Juan Coy,
I was told last year that for the Minister of Natural Resources, Hon. Gaspar Vega, to grant Conejo and Santa Teresa’s long-term community-based sustainable forest management license, Toledo East Area Representative Hon. Peter Eden Martinez and Toledo West Area Representative Hon. Juan Coy had to endorse the applications. I absolutely did not believe this when I was told. However, I must say that I am extremely disappointed to learn that in fact this is the case.
SATIIM, like the communities, have been confident that due processes and procedures as established by law had been followed. Therefore, you would understand that we were stunned to know that endorsements were required from area representatives and that the endorsements have not been forthcoming, therefore, the communities could not get their long-term licenses.
The communities have been advised by their legal counsel, the government duly advised as well, that a license is not necessary for commercializing their interest in resources on their land. However, SATIIM with the two communities - Conejo and Santa Teresa - pioneering work in community-based sustainable forest management in Belize, felt it extremely important to work in partnership with the Forest Department; therefore, we used established legal frameworks. So, established processes and procedures were followed without prejudice to the rights affirmed by the Supreme Court of Belize.
Recently, the Prime Minister made a statement in reference to oil drilling; he expressed the view that so long as law and procedures are in place that everything will go well. Had this been the case, Conejo and Santa Teresa communities would have gotten their licenses a long time ago.
Another case in point is the new regulation that makes it illegal to sell lumber that has been harvested with chainsaw. Despite this regulation, there are the thousands of illegal Rosewood on our highway for all to see. When will the government take action to stop this illegal activity?
Then, there are the processes and procedures for obtaining long-term forest licenses; let’s adhere to them and remove the maneuvering aimed only at trying to score political mileage.
Join us in helping our communities overcome the many challenges that they confront on a daily basis; let us not restrain their creativity and innovation. The community-based sustainable forest management and enterprise development in Conejo and Santa Teresa are good for these communities, as it creates employment for the members of these communities. This is what development should be.
Therefore, to avoid further delays, I am kindly asking you, Minister Peter Eden Martinez and Minister Juan Coy, to give your endorsements to the Deputy Prime Minister, Hon. Gaspar Vega, as soon as possible.
I also ask you to use your influence to persuade the Deputy Prime Minister to remove this new imposed condition for forest licenses. I would rather see the endorsements coming from the communities. Let’s get on with development that truly empowers our people.
cc: Hon. Dean Oliver Barrow
Prime Minister of Belize
Hon. Gaspar Vega
Deputy Prime Minister