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Conservation: Not a Solo Act

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I packed my bags the night before we left, made sure I didn’t forget my tooth brush just to realize later that I forgot the toothpaste instead. So we took off early Monday morning to attend the “Primer Intercambio Regional de Guardarecurso de la Selva Maya” in Flores Peten, Guatemala. The purpose of the workshop was for the exchange of ideas among rangers and representatives of Protected Areas within the Selva Maya region which encompasses Belize, Guatemala and parts of Mexico. To be honest I only had a vague idea what the workshop would be like and I wondered how CSFI would benefit or fit into the whole scheme of things. Now that the workshop has ended, I can safely say that it far exceeded my expectations and it has been a great learning experience, further emphasizing the need for collaboration and exchange of information among Protected Areas and partner organizations.

What it was like

The workshop was filled with presentations from different organizations shedding light on their roles, challenges and accomplishments. What were very evident are the similarities that each organization shared and the contrast in techniques and strategies to accomplish projects and tackle challenges.  On the second day we paired off with other groups and representative organizations to develop a plan for further collaboration. Realistic goals were set and while the workshop was just an icebreaker, the plan is further develop these relationships and collaborate effectively. In short we gained a wealth of knowledge, socially, intellectually and strategically. It is amazing how many things can be learned in such a short time when you learn from a collection of experienced people willing to exchange ideas and information.

What’s next

After a fruitful workshop, what can we do next? It is important that we follow through and accomplish the goals that we have set. Sometimes with the overwhelming amount of work that we have, we tend to forget our commitments or the importance of collaboration. In fact, collaboration should ease the overwhelming work and enable us to be more efficient while accomplishing even greater goals. Of course we also have to be realistic and accept that collaboration is a “give and take” relationship that encompasses personalities and self interests, but if you can’t put differences aside it can be very hard to grow. It’s not always easy and it may not always work but in an ideal world, collaboration is the standard for getting things done in an efficient, progressive and innovative manner. The stage has been set now it’s time to make things happen, 2014 here we come.

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More than meets the eye

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Just 3 miles before arriving at the small fishing community of Sarteneja, there is a flag and sign that mark the entrance to a place known by locals as “La Reserva”. This Protected Area (PA), however, is quite a bit more than that and through the years it has become an integral part of the Protected Areas System of Belize.

The Shipstern Conservation and Management Area is currently managed by the Corozal Sustainable Future Initiative (CSFI). It is the only PA in Belize that protects the Yucatan Dry forest – a forest with unique vegetation and wildlife found only in this part of the world. This PA is home to  4 broad ecosystems, over 266 species of plants, 43 species of mammals, over 275 species of birds, 67 species of reptiles, 17 species of amphibians and 33 species of fish.YucatanJay

The most recent achievement for the organization (CSFI), is the signing of management agreements for both Honey Camp National Park and Fresh Water Creek Forest Reserve. While the team at CSFI is committed to what they do best, they are always eager to share the work that they do with anyone willing to drop by for a visit.