With all the controversy spinning around the security of the Chiquibul Nature Reserve and the illegal activity taking place in more than one protected area, we cannot forget that the persons on the ground are our very own Belizean Protected Areas rangers. Their job is not only dangerous but it is also extremely fundamental for the overall National Protected Areas System (NPAS) and the conservation of our natural resources.
The attention garnered by the insurmountable illegal activity in the Chiquibul comes just a few weeks after the completion of Belize’s first ever National Ranger Training delivered by Ya’axche Conservation Trust in collaboration with the UB ERI and with funding from PACT.
Some years ago, after conducting a training needs assessment, the UB ERI sought funding from PACT to pilot a series of courses that became known as the National Training Program for Protected Areas Management (NTPPAM). This program set out to deliver a total of 8 of 14 courses designed under the NTPPAM. While funding was not initially provided for the ranger training component of the program, in early 2014, the PACT awarded a small grant to the UB ERI for piloting the ranger training.
The National Ranger Training (NRT) is designed to be an intensive three part course which aims to raise the standards of rangers in marine and terrestrial environments and as a result overall management. Rangers are the law enforcement, data collecting, tourist greeting and community liaison officers of our national parks. They protect these natural areas by enforcing park rules and regulations, preventing forest fires, helping to maintain an ecological balance, and seeing that visitors move around wisely. Some might even transport injured animals to wildlife rehabilitation facilities and of course most are those bright faces you meet when taking a tour around Belize’s beautiful land and seascapes. They are the backbone of forest and marine protection!
The NRT started off in early July and ran to the end of August 2014. A total of 10 rangers started the training but only 9 of these completed the training. The three modules imparted were: Core Skills and Competencies, Practical Field Skills and Law Enforcement.
The ERI looks forward to delivering the remaining courses under the NTPPAM and remains committed to continue building capacity to enhance the sustainable manage of Belize’s National Protected Areas System as envisioned in the National Protected Area System Plan.