Engaging communities in forest governance discussions

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Communities of the Maya Golden Landscape were engaged in forest governance discussions, critical in the development of a REDD+ strategy for Belize.

Forest communities are critical stakeholders in forest protection and sustainable development. In September 2019, Ya’axché facilitated informative meetings on REDD+, a readiness preparation project led by the Belizean government and funded by the World Bank and Forest Carbon Partnership Facility, to the communities of Golden Stream, Indian Creek, Silver Creek, and San Miguel, Medina Bank, San Jose, Aguacate, Trio and Bladen.

Like in other parts of the world, the REDD+ Belize project aims to establish a program that reduces carbon emissions from deforestation and forest degradation in Belize. The forest communities in the Maya Golden Landscape in southern Belize are dependent on forests for clean water, food, shelter, medicine, recreation and a spiritual connection. The value of the forest is incalculable; and for centuries, the sustainable use and conservation of forests have been carried out by forest communities. Forests remain standing around the communities of the Maya Golden Landscape.

REDD+ Stakeholders Meeting - Ya'axché

Community members of the Maya Golden Landscape at the REDD+ awareness raising meeting. | Photo: Sayuri Tzul/Ya’axché

The community leaders and members came together to learn and discuss the global initiative to combat climate change by supporting the reduction of deforestation and keeping standing forest. The meetings highlighted the importance of our forests and the guidelines, requirements, benefits, challenges and commitments of a REDD+ program in Belize. Traditionally the REDD+ programs around the world support financial incentives, capacity building, research and activities directed at forest protection.

Communities voiced their opinions and concerns regarding short and long term challenges and opportunities the program may bring. The consultation is to feed into the development and implementation of the national REDD+ Strategy that aims at fostering conservation, stewardship, sustainable management of forests. The community representatives had a mutual request on being engaged in the strategy development and decision making before and during the initiative.

Ya’axché was happy to participate, facilitate and see the interest of communities in the development of the REDD+ program in Belize.

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