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Building Community Fire Fighting Capacity

by Ya'axche Conservation Trust
Building Community Fire Fighting Capacity
Building Community Fire Fighting Capacity
Building Community Fire Fighting Capacity
Building Community Fire Fighting Capacity
Building Community Fire Fighting Capacity
Building Community Fire Fighting Capacity
Building Community Fire Fighting Capacity
Building Community Fire Fighting Capacity
Building Community Fire Fighting Capacity
Building Community Fire Fighting Capacity
Building Community Fire Fighting Capacity
Building Community Fire Fighting Capacity
Building Community Fire Fighting Capacity
Building Community Fire Fighting Capacity
Photo credit: Christina Garcia & Erwin Tush
Photo credit: Christina Garcia & Erwin Tush

This spring, in addition to battling Covid-19, Ya’axché Conservation Trust was also fighting fire. Although fires are common during Belize’s dry season, which typically runs from February through May, the country has seen more frequent, stronger and intense fires in recent years, a direct result of climate change, which impacts both local livelihoods and conservation efforts. The end of April brought hot, humid and dry conditions to Belize, which led to incredible, uncontrolled fires in the country’s western district of Cayo. The Cayo community of Benque Viejo del Carmen (Benque) and the nearby Vaca Forest Reserve (the Vaca) became the epicenter of these fires and where Ya’axché focused their fire fighting efforts after receiving invitations for help from farmers and community members of Benque. 

 

Three days of firefighting efforts were led by Ya’axché’s Community Outreach and Livelihoods (COL) team and on-the-ground support and encouragement was provided by Ya’axché’s executive director. After providing quick instruction and an overview of firefighting equipment, strategy and safety protocol, the COL team and local community members set to the hard work of fighting to contain and extinguish the fires that threatened Benque, nearby farms and the lands protected in the Vaca. The Vaca covers 35,701 acres and forms part of Belize’s Maya Mountain Massif (MMM), a key biodiversity area and ecosystem service powerhouse. Through a series of protected areas, the MMM reaches the Caribbean Sea and Toledo district, where Ya’axché’s headquarters are located. In fact,  Ya’axché works to protect 151,000 acres of forests and protected areas within the south-eastern portion of the MMM, through management of the private Golden Stream Corridor Preserve and through co-management of Bladen Nature Reserve and Maya Mountain North Forest Reserve. 

 

Teamwork, a strong line of communication, clear organization and delineated areas of responsibility were essential to the success of this firefighting mission. Because of the organisation’s current Fire Management Plan, equipment, as well as the experience of COL team members in firefighting, Ya’axché was able to quickly respond and set up a fire chain of command, which included both staff and community members, and was led by the Burn Boss, an experienced fire fighting member of Ya’axché’s COL team. We are grateful that our capacity, many thanks to our GlobalGiving donors, allowed for staff to join the Benque community to help preserve both local livelihoods and natural resources, including forest cover within the Vaca. 

 

This recent experience of firefighting in western Belize demonstrates how necessary strong partnerships, training, education and equipment are to be able to act quickly to fight fire and protect land, forest and human health. Ya'axché looks forward to sharing our knowledge and experience to help Belizean communities further fight these fires that are becoming more frequent and intense in the face of climate change. Although this work was conducted outside of Ya’axché’s Maya Golden Landscape of southern Belize, the interconnectivity of the landscape is undeniable, as these actions still contributed towards the protection of the larger MMM, as well as to Ya’axché’s vision of working towards harmony between nature and human development for the benefit of both.

Photo credit: Christina Garcia & Erwin Tush
Photo credit: Christina Garcia & Erwin Tush
Photo credit: Christina Garcia & Erwin Tush
Photo credit: Christina Garcia & Erwin Tush
Photo credit: Christina Garcia & Erwin Tush
Photo credit: Christina Garcia & Erwin Tush

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Organization Information

Ya'axche Conservation Trust

Location: Punta Gorda, Toledo District - Belize
Website:
Facebook: Facebook Page
Twitter: @Yaaxche?lang=en
Project Leader:
Megan Lopez
Punta Gorda, Toledo District Belize
$422 raised of $12,000 goal
 
12 donations
$11,578 to go
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