Who is FCD
Friends for Conservation and Development (FCD) is a non-profit, non-governmental organization based in the Cayo District. FCD is the only non–governmental organization with an assertive management presence in the Chiquibul Forest, representing 7.7% of the national territory.
Day to day, the primary work of FCD, with its partners including the Forest Department, Institute of Archaeology, BDF and the Police, has been to maintain the integrity of natural and cultural resources of the Chiquibul Forest.
The Chiquibul Forest is in the south-western region of Belize with over 423,000 acres of tropical forest (about 4x the size of Barbados). The area includes the largest cave system in Central America, the Caracol Mayan Site, the Chiquibul River which provides water to 40% of the Belize population and so much more. The FCD Park Rangers do the day to day monitoring and research within this vast forest area and provide critical data to the regulatory agencies including the BDF, Police, Forest Department and other authorities about the state of the environment and extent of incursions and encroachments against our natural resources and our sovereignty.
FCD is also pioneering a landscape management program in the Vaca Forest Reserve and leads an innovative bi-national watershed conservation program. FCD provides services for research through the Las Cuevas Research Station, located in the heart of the Western Maya Mountains; runs a wilderness tour operation through Eco-Quest Expeditions, and promotes youth participation through the FCD Environmental Youth Group.
FCD is located in the Maya community of San Jose Succotz, Cayo District.
The village is known for two main features – its towering Xunantunich Maya Monument and the green and lively Mopan River.
The founders of the village are of Maya Itza descent that migrated to Belize in the 1860’s from neighbouring Peten, Guatemala.
Belize's Chiquibul Forest
- About 400,000 acres of rich biodiversity, wildlife, timber and home to the largest cave system in Central America and to the Caracol Archaeological Site
- The Chiquibul Forest comprises the Caracol Mayan Site, the The Chiquibul National Park and the Chiquibul Forest Reserve
- It provides water to over 40% of the Belize population
- It is the largest cachement area of rainfall which is critical to the provision/generation of electricity in the country
- Friends of Conservation and Development (FCD) is a small group of dedicated committed Belizeans who risk their lives each day in protecting and conserving this vast natural resource
The Chiquibul Park Rangers
The FCD Park Rangers do the day to day monitoring and research within this vast forest area (about 4x the size of Barbados) and provide critical data to the regulatory agencies including the BDF, Police, Forest Department and other authorities about the state of the environment and extent of incursions and encroachments against our natural resources and our sovereignty.
Our Fundraising arm
Eco-Quest Expeditions “Saving Wilderness Through Adventure” We have the best naturalist guides and rangers with extensive experience in conducting long distance expeditions in the most extreme and rugged areas of Belize imaginable. Their passion is conservation work and they’re welcoming you to be a part of their ongoing conservation effort in areas never thought possible for the common visitor a few years ago. Each trip is based on the concepts of monitoring, education, promoting pride and making the visitor be an integral part of the protection program. Our motto is Saving Wilderness through Adventure. To get this experience you do not need to be an avid hiker, but must enjoy the outdoors – we promise to take you to areas that are unique and be a part of a high caliber staff whose goal is to protect the areas that you will hike and climb.
FCD was formed in 1989 under the name, Youth Environmental Action group (YEAG) with the sole purpose of building a conservation ethics amongst youth through discovery and exploration of the Belizean outdoors. For ten years it existed under that name that eventually evolved into the Friends for Conservation and Development (FCD). The organization recruited volunteer members from throughout the Cayo District and participated locally in global initiatives such as Rainforest Week, World Environment Day, Arbor Day, EarthDay and International Water Day. It was until 2007 that the organization started hiring staff for the management and conservation of core protected areas in the Chiquibul-Maya Mountains.
Threats and Challenges
Our natural environment is constantly under threat, particularly as populations increase.
Although Belize possesses many protected areas, the work of FCD is uniquely challenging since 90% of the threats and stressors in Belize’s largest protected areas, the Chiquibul National Park, are from a trans-boundary nature. In 2007 when FCD entered into a co-management agreement with the Forest Department for the management of the Chiquibul National Park, we have annually been documenting a progressive escalation of illegal activities. FCD’s goal has been an ongoing struggle to reclaim the integrity of the Chiquibul National Park. Yet, the threats including poaching of spectacular wildlife such as the scarlet macaws, great curassows, brockett deer and peccaries is ongoing. Extraction of non-timber forest produce and primary hardwoods such as Belize’s national tree, the Mahogany is being illegally smuggled across Belize’s western border. Looting for Maya artifacts are extensive and incursions as a result of the agricultural expansion is dramatic. The loss is in the millions and the problem is rapidly impoverishing the ecological processes and the stability of the maya forest. The Chiquibul National Park is part of the tri-national bioregion forming the largest remaining contiguous block of tropical forest north of the Amazon.
Saving this tropical broadleaf forest is not only crucial to the survival of wildlife species, but also vital to human populations from both Belize and Guatemala that depend on the environmental services and goods derived from this exuberant forest. You can be a part of this ongoing struggle by supporting our programs.
The entire staff of FCD are from communities located nearby our target zone, namely the Chiquibul-Maya Mountains. These are young individuals that have a personal aspiration to grow and make a positive difference in our society through environmental action. Presently, FCD has a cohort of eighteen park rangers, two educators, two research station maintenance personnel, four field research assistants, and five highly qualified program professionals and administrative staff. All FCD employees speak and write both English and Spanish.