Headline — 15 January 2013 — by Miriam Longsworth

Today, the Association of Protected Areas Management Organizations (APAMO), a powerful lobbying body, issued a press release applauding the efforts of Minister of Forest, Fisheries, and Sustainable Development, Lisel Alamilla, to control the illegal harvesting of rosewood, and other woods, in Belize.

On Friday, January 11, 2013 about 700 pieces of illegally harvested rosewood were burned by Minister Alamilla. Some say it was not the best move, as the wood could have been kept for a useful purpose, while others saw it as a bold and admirable move for the Minister.

APAMO is on the side of those who applaud the action of the Minister, who before being appointed a minister of government was executive director of Xa’axche Conservation Trust, a standing member of APAMO.

The organization wrote in the press release that it “applauds Minister Lisel Alamilla for her decisive actions to halt the illegal trade of this valuable wood, the moratorium on the extraction of Rosewood, and other measures taken to promote the sustainable development of the country’s forest and marine resources.”

APAMO went on to state that they condemn the government and whoever else is involved in the ongoing illegal harvesting and trade of Belize’s wood.

APAMO “calls on the Government of Belize to implement an independent and objective investigation to determine the individuals involved in these illegal and corrupt activities and to apply the full weight of the law on those involved. APAMO also calls on the Government of Belize to allocate sufficient financial resources to the Ministry of Forest, Fisheries and Sustainable Development in order for them to have the capacity to enforce the forest and fisheries laws and to promote the sustainable development of Belize’s natural resources.”

The organization ended its press release by stating that it will continue to support Minister Alamilla and the ministry in “promoting the sustainable development of Belize’s natural resources.”

Despite the moratorium placed on the harvesting of rosewood early last year, there have been several cases of illegal harvesting of rosewood, and other types of wood, in southern Belize. A few busts have been made involving the seizure of those illegally harvested woods, the most recent being on Wednesday, January 9, 2013, when a truck in Deep River, Toledo, was found, prepared to transport over 700 pieces of rosewood.

That was the wood burned by Minister Alamilla. According to a source, all the burls and logs from that set of rosewood went to woodcarvers and villagers. What was burned were the pieces of wood which were believed to have been prepared for illegal export.

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