Ya'axché Conservation Trust

Race Against Fire Appeal

Every year parts of our precious rainforests and tropical broadleaf forests are lost due to uncontrolled fires. Fire is the leading cause of deforestation in southern Belize removing the habitat of thousands of plants and animals and damaging indigenous Mayan peoples’ property, crops, building materials and medicine. These fires can be controlled and this devastating loss can be stopped.

Giving to our Race Against Fire campaign will support Mayan farmers to help control fire, keep our forests standing and maintain the life support services that these precious forests provide.


Mayan women displayed their speed in shelling 10 ears of corn shelling each during Race Against Fire 2013. | Photo: Erik Hammar.

Why do we need Race against Fire?
Our rainforests and tropical broadleaf forests are vulnerable to natural disasters and climate change. In 2001, Hurricane Iris ripped across southern Belize. It was one of the most devastating hurricanes ever recorded here. It flattened everything in its path - houses, crops and trees. Many areas of tropical broadleaf forest were obliterated and rainforest edges were ravaged by the hurricane.

Just two years later, our forests were further devastated by the largest fire escape witnessed in southern Belize during the dry season. These fires were linked to the local traditional slash and burn farm clearance technique. They quickly raged out of control due to the heavy loads of fuel Hurricane Iris had left behind. Farms were damaged, wildlife was forced to retreat and the few standing trees that were holding topsoil on hills and slopes were lost. The hills to this day bear scars from the fires of 2003.

Our forests are still vulnerable to fire, as our dry seasons become dryer due to climate change and farmers carry out slash and burn to provide new farmlands and reduce pests.
How will my donation be spent?
We know that we cannot stop hurricanes from providing fuel for fires and farmers from using fires to clear their land, but improving their skills in fire management goes a long way to help reduce potentially devastating escaped fires. Your donation will help us do this and stamp out uncontrolled fires and reduce the loss of rainforests and tropical broadleaf forests.

$10 - supports fire control information for 10 people.
$30 - supports a fire control demonstration for 10 people.
$50 - supports community fire officer training for 1 person.
$100 – supports fire patrol equipment for a whole community.

This year we will target donations towards sharing messages, raising awareness, demonstrating fire control techniques and showcasing community fire officers and fire patrol equipment at our annual ‘Race Against Fire’ event. Since 2005 we have been bringing together around 1000 farming families from the local Maya communities to remind them about fire and its dangers, and the steps they can take to reduce fire risks.

The ‘Race Against Fire’ is a novel event based around a bicycle race that passes through five communities. To enter the race, each competitor must create a fire awareness message that we’ll use in Fire Campaigns in the future. Throughout the day we provide information, training and demonstrations on fire control.

Racers starting the bicycle race during Race Against Fire 2013. | Photo: Erik Hammar.

Donate now and help us save our rainforests from fire, protect people’s livelihoods and places for wildlife, improve freshwater quality for drinking, recreation, and life both around our rivers and out to sea and the world’s second largest Barrier Reef System, located off the coast of Belize.