BELIZE CITY, Mon. Feb. 16, 2015–Rafael Manzanero, Executive Director of Friends for Conservation and Development (FCD), met this morning in Belize City with Taiwan’s Ambassador to Belize, Benjamin Ho, who reiterated his support for FCD’s patriotic conservation work in helping to protect Belize’s resources inside the Chiquibul Forest.
Manzanero, whom Ho sees as Belize’s wildlife ambassador, recently returned from a mission in Taiwan, where he had a chance to promote the Chiquibul, as well as to forge new alliances with related NGOs in that Asian country.
“It was really a very wonderful experience. Even though I had taken trips before, this one was [exceptional]. I was able to visit national parks and protected areas and meet other institutions in Taiwan,” Manzanero told us.
He said that Ho has encouraged him to strengthen any potential partnerships with Taiwan’s environmental institutions and he will be pursuing that over the next few weeks.
His Taiwan counterparts felt that over the years, that country has lost a lot of its forest, particularly to industrial pollution and they expressed the hope that Belize, with a smaller population and a larger part of its natural resources still intact, still has an opportunity to protect and maintain much of its forest cover.
Information published by the Protected Areas Conservation Trust (PACT) indicates that the Chiquibul Forest encompasses 16.8% (437,376 acres) of all protected areas in Belize, making it the largest protected area in the country. The Chiquibul National Park, which FCD co-manages, covers 264,003 acres of land, the majority of that forest.
Manzanero said that those he spoke with in Taiwan, including the group known as the Society of Wilderness (SOW), a major membership organization in Taiwan, are interested in experiencing the wonders of the Chiquibul Forest in Belize. Some students are also interested in doing internships.
As a part of the mission in Taiwan, Manzanero was able to make a presentation on the Chiquibul to several NGOs and government agencies in that country, and he is seeking funding support for the FCD to undertake a project to help recover the local population of the endangered scarlet macaws.
That proposal was made to Taiwan’s Forestry Bureau which has an international support program and it was geared to getting assistance for two major components: an on-location scarlet macaw conservation program, which will involve the hand-rearing of chicks at risk to give them a better opportunity for them to grow and to be released into the wild; and secondly, a public awareness campaign about the importance of the scarlet macaw.