Rafael Manzanero OBE – a shining example for Belize

Rafael Manzanero and Neil Rogers with Alexandra Cousteau on the Raspaculo River, Belize.

Rafael Manzanero and Neil Rogers on the Raspaculo River, Belize.

I read with great pride that my friend Rafael Manzanero, Executive Director of Friends for Conservation and Development (FCD) was awarded a OBE (Order of the British Empire) in the New Year’s Honour’s List for his contribution to Environmental Protection.

Rafael has worked tirelessly over many years to protect and conserve Belize’s (and the region’s) cultural and natural heritage. FCD is a shining beacon of what can be achieved with unlimited dedication despite limited resources.

I hope this honour will highlight Rafael’s outstanding leadership and act as a catalyst for more interest and resources being brought to bear to protect Belize’s Chiquibul Forest and the Maya Mountain Massif.

After a year of change for myself one of my New Year’s resolutions is to once again engage in the effort to protect and conserve Belize’s wild places, the creatures that live in them and to support the communities that lie at the edge of protected areas.

Dedication, passion and team work buy time for Belize’s Macaws

There’s a nice trip report by Christopher Gabbard, the Executive Director of Tulsa based Rainforest Restoration Fund that can be read by clicking here.

The Rainforest Restoration Fund is one of the main sources of grant funding for the annual monitoring and nest protection work undertaken by Roni Martinez and Charles Britt.

One of the things that I like most about what Roni is doing is that he’s using FaceBook to reach out to both a domestic and international audience. To compliment the small number of paid, well trained Belizean monitoring staff at the nesting sites (paid for by the RRF and Loro Parque grants) Roni recruits volunteers that spent one or more nights guarding nests in the Chiquibul. Many of these volunteers were Belizean. This is a smart strategy as the future of conservation in Belize and the survival of the macaws will ultimately be in the hands of passionate and motivated Belizeans’. FCD is also working on a similar strategy with the hope that  the 2013 nesting season can be even more successful than this years.

Can we learn from Nicaragua’s eco-soldiers?

Over the weekend I saw a very interesting article on the BBCs on-line site about Nicaragua’s eco-soldiers and their bid to stop illegal logging and deforestation. Please click on the link to view the full article – http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-latin-america-17062806

Protected areas all over Central America and indeed the tropics are facing huge threats and economic losses from illegal logging. Nicaragua has understood that small NGOs and small rural communities cannot stand up to the firepower and threat posed by these illegal timber traffickers and have launched ‘Operation Green Gold’.

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