On Monday some $736,000 in grants for research projects and conservation and environmental development were handed out by the Protected Areas Conservation Trust. Keynote speaker Minister for Forestry, Fisheries and Sustainable Development Lisel Alamilla paid tribute to the awardees.
Minister Lisel Alamilla
We’re here today giving two research grants to Mr. Alex Anderson, (I don’t see Alex here) and Mr. Wilber Martinez. In addition to that, we are giving significant amount of monies to the Association of Protected Areas Management Organization, APAMO, for those of you who are not aware, is the network of Protected Areas Managers who have a co-management agreement with the Government of Belize. So, for us it is important that they are strengthened in order that they assist us in strengthening the capacities of the smaller community-based organizations that are located across the length and breath of this country. We are also granting the Hol Chan Marine Reserve, funds to manage the Hol Chan, which is a very well known protected area in Belize, and one of the most highly visited in our country”.
Master’s student Wilber Martinez, whose research project will track the population and movement of the national animal, the Baird’s Tapir, spoke of the importance of the project to PLUS News.
“The main objectives of the…of this study is to see where the tapirs are using their habitats. And we are going to deploy GPS collars on tapirs, so that we could track them out there in the wild. So, at the end of two years, we are going to have a lot of data to analyze to see where they are migrating, where they are going. So, that data will give us a lot of information and that will be disseminated to…for example to the Belize Zoo, and also it will form a conservation framework for Belizeans”.
The Association of Protected Areas Management Organizations (APAMO), only recently at odds with the Minister over her views on petroleum exploration in protected areas, appears to have buried the hatchet with the help of a very large donation – $384,000, which executive director Jose Perez explains its uses.
Jose Perez – PACT
“…through this particular project, approximately $384,000. The strengthening of the organization as an institution continues by focusing on our community-based organizations, by strengthening their capacities, and so doing, we’re also building and strengthening the capacity of the organization. And some of you might be aware; these CDO’s or lone cycle managers are comprised of very dedicated people. These are people who are volunteers, and they don’t get involved in the work of Protected Areas Management for a salary, but because they believe in the cause they are involved in”.
The other awardees are: The Sarteneja Alliance for Conservation and Development, receiving sixty thousand for system level planning and collaboration for increased management effectiveness within the Northern Belize marine system including strengthening of the management of Corozal Bay Wildlife Sanctuary; $35,608 for the Sarteneja Fishermen Association project to reduce the threat of lionfish invasion in marine protected areas by establishing a lionfish hunting sanctuary in the style of the Placencia cooperative including an outlet for sales to the Northern Fisherman Cooperative and looking into value-added products; and $199,500 for the Fisheries Department to expand enforcement capacity and monitoring and education in the Hol Chan Marine Reserve off Ambergris Caye.