Enhancing collaboration for conservation and development in southern belize by

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1 This project follows Grimble and Chan’s (1995:114) inclusive definition of key actors or stakeholders: “By ‘stakeholders’ is meant all those who affect, and/or are affected by, the policies, decisions and actions of [a program]; they can be individuals, communities, social groups or institutions of any size, aggregation or level in society.” Fowkes (1999) refines the term by focusing on the actions of stakeholders. Stakeholders are “[those] who will directly influence the outcome [of a program] because of their mandate or close interest...and those who are directly influenced by the outcome because of their close interest; [those] who will interact with the developing program, and maintain close contact as it develops…; those who will give input, …and who can in turn provide information and perspective; and the general public, which may need to be kept informed, but may not be directly affected” (in van der Linde et. al 2001:19-20; emphasis added).

2 Alcaldes are traditional Maya chieftains or lawmen. The alcalde system dates back to 1871, when the colonial government granted to local indigenous community elders the right to decide minor civil and criminal cases and gave them the responsibility to administer the local census. The alcaldes, after deliberation with their local council of elders, were initially allowed to settle village conflicts over land and forest resources. The first alcalde was elected in a village in western Belize in 1885, and the alcalde system was brought within the official national judicial system in 1913 via the passage of the Alcalde Ordinance. This law expressly prohibited the village alcaldes from exerting power over land disputes. The alcaldes, however, retained distributive authority over “abandoned and unclaimed land” until 1964, when the GOB instituted the land leasehold system. The state thereby became the sole authority over land in Belize (Clark 2000b).

3 Chicle is the sap of the Sapodilla tree, and was used as the base ingredient in the production of chewing gum.

4 Earnings and revenues are quoted in Belize dollars. The exchange rate is fixed at BZ$2 to US$1.

5 The Central American Ecosystems Mapping Project is part of a larger project commissioned by the World Bank and the Government of the Netherlands to undertake a series of regional activities throughout Central America. The primary objective of the project was to create an ecosystems map on the scale of 1:250,000 for the region, using a uniform methodology and nomenclature. The objective of the Belizean component of the project was to update and correct the 1995 vegetation map of Belize.

6 The CZMA is an autonomous public statutory body charged with the responsibility of implementing and monitoring policies that govern the use and development of the coastal zone in Belize.

7 This 2002 World Bank/Wildlife Conservation Society survey was entitled “Community Involvement in Establishment, Planning, and Management of GEF Priority Protected Areas in the Mesoamerican Barrier Reef System.”

8 Southern Belize refers to the southern half of the Stann Creek District and the entire Toledo District.

9 ECOFOR is one of several closely-help companies with “responsibility for the management of over 300,000 acres of timberlands”, jointly referred to as Woodward Companies that are owned and operated by the Woodward family of the United States of America.

10 Mayas in Southern Belize commonly self-identify as “Toledo Maya” to distinguish themselves from the Yucatec Mayas of northern Belize and the “Belizean Mayas,” Mopan and Kekchi Maya who reside outside of the District (Wainwright 1998:35n).

11 Descendent from early Spanish codes of governance in the Americas, the Belizean alcalde system was codified in 1871, when the colonial government granted local indigenous community elders the right to preside over minor civil and criminal cases and gave them the responsibility to administer the local census. Alcaldes, after deliberation with their local council of elders, were initially allowed to settle village conflicts over land and forest resources. The alcalde system was co-opted by the national judicial system in 1913 via the passage of the Alcalde Ordinance. This law expressly prohibited the village alcaldes from exercising power in land disputes. Alcaldes retained distributive authority over “abandoned and unclaimed land” until 1964 when the GOB instituted the “leasehold system.” The state thereby became the sole authority over land in Belize (Clark 2000b).

12 The Maya Atlas (1997) is the product of an extensive mapping project undertaken by the TMCC and TAA between 1995 and 1997. The Atlas provides a cartographic foundation for the recognition of Maya land claims.

13 The Inuit Circumpolar Conference formed in 1977 as a multi-national indigenous NGO representing Inuit people of Alaska, Canada, Russia, and Greenland. The ICC is active to the level of the United Nations in order to protect its homeland, defend Inuit rights, and foster sustainable development. Transfer of skills and experience to other indigenous organizations like the MLA and SATIIM is part of the International Development and Trade mission of the ICC. The project with the MLA is primarily based on the experience of Inuit from Nunavik, Canada (ICC 2003).

14 Nearly all of the Maya organizations (and most other southern NGOs) are based in the coastal town of Punta Gorda, the largest town in the Toledo District.

15 SAGE, a coalition of local and national NGOs, was formed in 1998 to address the negative impacts of the Southern Highway expansion. SAGE now addresses logging issues and regional watershed management (See Chapter Six).

16 The combination of governmental antagonism and community resistance is not unique to the story of SATIIM. A similar scenario unfolded when the establishment of Crooked Tree Wildlife Sanctuary usurped existing Creole communities’ control over their traditional fishing grounds (Johnson 1998).

17 Land of the Free. Lyrics: Samuel Alfred Haynes, 1963; music: Selwyn Walford Young, 1963; National Anthem of Belize adopted, 1981.

18 The EcoLogic Development Fund (EDF) and the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) helped support SATIIM. EDF, a US-based environmental NGO, started in 1993 to foster conservation in Latin America through sustainable development and community based management of natural resources. IFAD, a specialized agency of the United Nations, was created in 1977 to address issues of food insecurity by financing agricultural development projects in rural areas of developing countries. Pertinent to Southern Belize, IFAD’s target groups include indigenous people and the rural landless.

19 This area is also referred to as the Maya Mountain Marine Corridor (MMMC) and the Port Honduras Watershed Area (PHWA).

20 TNC started investing in Belize in early 1993 via a regional project, the Proyecto Ambiental para Centro America (PACA). At the time, the Belize Center for Environmental Studies (BCES), an environmental research NGO based in Belize City, was its main partner in Belize. TNC looked at the results of a Critical Habitat Study conducted by BCES, which determined that it was critical to protect the Deep River-Port Honduras corridor.

21 Approximately 77,000 acres of the Toledo District is officially classified as “Indian Reservation.” There are disputed accounts of the status of the Maya Reservations. The only statutory rules governing the reservations were adopted in 1924 and these have never been revised (GOB 2000c). The National Lands Act, “makes no mention of Indian Reservations as such, only referring to ‘reserves’ which may or may not be applicable” (GOB 2000c). However, the Toledo Maya Cultural Council (TMCC), a non-governmental organization (NGO) which represents the Mopan and Kekchi of the Toledo District, claims that these reservations continue to exist under the laws of Belize, but that they only include roughly half of the Maya villages that currently exist (IACHR Report No. 78/00 2000). Currently, authority to distribute lands within the reservations (for residential and farming purposes) is unofficially exercised by village alcaldes (traditional Maya chieftains or lawmen) and/or Village Council Chairmen (GOB 2000c). The ten existing reservations now encompass 16 communities with an approximate population of 6,500 Maya (IADB 2001). There are at least 21 Maya communities that have been established outside the reservation boundaries. In total, the Toledo District is home to approximately 15,000 Mopan and Kekchi Mayas (Shal 2002a).

22 At the time, with TNC support, Heyman was conducting a multidisciplinary study aimed at determining how to maximize ecological and socioeconomic benefits of corridors.

23 According to the SCP Consultant, the “SCP is an analysis of ecological systems in need of conservation, priority threats to these systems, and priority strategies needed to abate these threats. [The SCP is also] described as a process focused on the conservation of biodiversity, which brings in human considerations in the discussion of threats to biodiversity and conservation strategies. Because there is no explicit assessment of human needs, the MMMAT SCP should not be considered a management or development plan for the area, but rather an appraisal of threats to ecological processes and biodiversity at the site” (TIDE 2002a).

24 The SAGE/TWA story provides more details about these recent collaborative efforts at the multi-watershed scale.

25 PACT is a statutory trust fund, based in the capital city of Belmopan, which provides financial assistance for activities that foster conservation, sustainable development, and management of protected areas.

26 Several conservation NGOs working in the Gulf of Honduras watershed banded together in 1996 to form TRIGOH, whose mission is “to preserve the biological diversity of the Gulf of Honduras and improve the quality of life of the local communities” (TIDE 2003a).

27 BTIA is a national, non-profit, private-sector membership organization that “promotes the development of sustainable, eco-cultural tourism.” Its over 400 members are represented on many tourism and environmental-related government, legislative, advisory, consultative and licensing committees. BTIA’s main purpose is to “serve and promote the interests of its members, to develop and promote the Belize tourism product and to influence and secure the improvement of the [tourism] industry” (BTIA 2003).

28 The factors that enable these two alliances to be more effective are discussed in Chapters Three and Six, respectively.

29 This meeting was co-sponsored by the Belize Audubon Society and UNDP-Belize.

30 CARD was established in 1999 and initiated in March 2000 under the Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries. The project was designed to, among other functions, invest in the institutional capacity of community-based organizations and institute a microfinance program that aims to make credit available to even the poorest households in Southern Belize (Wainwright 2002).

31 See the Bladen Consortium story for more details.

32 Given that these arrangements are rarely accompanied by financial resources, it can be argued that this represents a devolution of roles and responsibilities from GOB to NGOs and CBOs, rather than actual “co-management.”

33 BACONGO is a national alliance of Belizean conservation NGOs that seeks to support the efforts of its members and to advocate for natural resource conservation and sustainable development in Belize.

34 As previously stated, ECOFOR is one of several closely-help companies with “responsibility for the management of over 300,000 acres of timberlands”, jointly referred to as Woodward Companies, which are owned and operated by the Woodward family of the USA.

35 The Arcadia Fundworks to secure the future of land with globally significant biodiversity by establishing protected areas through direct land purchase.” (FFI 2003b)

36 The inception of TIDE is described in Chapter Five.

37 “The National Biological Corridors Program (NBCP) under the guidance of the Mesoamerican Biological Corridors Project (MBC) is in the process of establishing itself for the continuity and sustainability of all activities implemented by the MBC towards the establishment of biological corridors locally” (CBM 2003).

38 See Toledo Watershed Association and SAGE Case Study

39 According to Belize Audubon Society an easement is not permissible under Belize’s real estate laws. For an easement to exist there must be a dominant and servient tenement in essence, two land owners with adjacent tracts. To achieve the same concept of a conservation easement, restrictive covenants and positive covenants may be put in place at the time of the acquisition of the title. Additionally the two landowners may execute contracts that bind each other which may be recorded as an encumbrance on the title (Marin 2003).

40 The purpose of the agreement (signed October 25, 2002) is as follows: “Whereas [BLE] a corporation, and known as the eco-tourism operator and [TIDE] a non-profit organization, and known as the local conservation partner have expressed their mutual intention to enhance cooperation between them and to promote the conservation and development that will guarantee long term sustainable utilization and maintain the ecological integrity of the Golden Stream River and the Port Honduras Marine Reserve while providing economic benefits to BLE, TIDE, and local residents” (BLE 2003a)

41 In October 2002, EcoLogic Enterprise Ventures, made a US$150,000 loan over five years to BLE. The loan represents a co-investment with Conservation International and The Nature Conservancy for the construction of low-impact lodges. (EEV 2003)

42 Various CBOs manage Caye Caulker Forest Reserve, Five Blues Lake National Park, Laughing Bird Caye National Park, Mayflower Bocawina National Park, Noj Kaax Meen Eligio Panti National Park, and Rio Blanco National Park.

43 Democratic decentralization occurs when powers and resources are transferred “to authorities representative of and downwardly accountable to local populations”. This is “considered to be the ‘strong’ form of decentralization” that “theoretically provides the greatest benefits.” Privatization transfers power to non-state entities, including individuals and corporations that may not be representative or accountable to local populations. (Ribot 2002)

44 In 1996 Maya Organizations brought a case to the Supreme Court of Belize to assert their rights over lands and resources included in logging concessions. In 1998 Maya leadership filed a petition with the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) in an effort to compel the Belizean Government to recognize Maya indigenous land rights and to challenge the legality of logging and oil concessions in Toledo.

45 The main purpose of the MMMC concept, as originally envisioned, was to guide economic development in the transect so that long-term ecological and socioeconomic benefits would be maximized at the ridge to reef scale (Heyman 2/27/03). The Site Conservation Plan for the region contains an overview of conservation targets and goals for the MMMC, described the stresses and sources of stresses on the five ecosystem types, critical threats and strategies, as well as monitoring and capacity building action plans.

46 Landscape scale conservation efforts are also referred to as ecoregional or ecosystem management in the literature. The principles of ecosystem management include “ …systems thinking, deeper understanding of the complexity and dynamism of ecological and social systems, more extensive consideration of different spatial and temporal scales, ecologically derived boundaries, adaptive management to deal with uncertainty, and collaborative decision making” (Yaffee 1999).

47 According to WWF, ecoregions are “relatively large units of land containing a distinct assemblage of natural communities and species, with boundaries that approximate the original extent of natural communities prior to major land-use change.” WWF's interest in ecoregion-based conservation arises, in part, “from a recognition of the need to find ways to operate at a scale larger than that for most projects. To achieve conservation results that are ecologically viable, it is necessary to conserve networks of key sites, migration corridors, and the ecological processes that maintain healthy ecosystems” (WWF 2003).

48 TNC is a US-based NGO that supports and implements conservation initiatives worldwide. The NGO owns and manages about 1,400 preserves in the US, where it has approximately one million members.

49 GEF assists developing countries to protect the global environment in four areas: global warming, pollution of international waters, destruction of biodiversity, and depletion of the ozone layer. The GEF is jointly implemented by the United Nations Development Programme, the United Nations Environment Programme, and the World Bank.

50 The MBC initiative is discussed in the next section below as well as in Chapter Two.

51 This project seeks to manage the MBRS as a “shared, regional ecosystem; safeguard its biodiversity values and functional integrity; and create a framework for its sustainable use” (GEF 2001).

52 The MBC project is a joint initiative of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP).

53 PACT gets its income from a conservation fee of US$3.75 per visitor paid upon departure from the country, and a 20 percent commission from cruise ship passenger fees. These constitute the primary source of funding for the trust fund. Since 1997, PACT has awarded over 35 small and medium-sized grants totaling approximately US$500 thousand to NGOs, CBOs and Government agencies.

54 Enabled by the U.S. Tropical Forest Conservation Act (TFCA), this landmark swap agreement was signed in August 2001 by the U.S. Government, with the assistance of TNC, to reduce approximately one-half of the debt obligations of the GOB to the United States in exchange for the protection of 23,000 acres of forest land in the MMMC (TNC 2001).

55 These land acquisitions could also be seen as unilateral actions to increase organizational turf.

56 TEA guesthouses were completed in 1992 and the first tourists started to arrive in 1993. Each village established a protected area for an “eco-trail” and for organic and traditional crops. An average of seven to nine families participated in each village; other food and service providers (non-TEA members) also participated.

57The CARD project was established in 1999 and is expected to run for seven years with funding of US$7 million provided through loans and grants from the Caribbean Development Bank, the International Fund for Agricultural Development, and the Government of Belize.
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