Who is Maria Garcia?
Maria Garcia is the niece, student and inheritor of the work of the erstwhile Elijio Panti. Before his death in 1996, Panti was renowned in Belize and in the world of herbal medicine as a knowledgeable Mayan herbalist and he was a spiritual leader for his people.
Maria is a native Mayan who lives in a village within the newly created National Park. You can visit her web site about her work in her village. Maria has dedicated her life to her people, to her uncle’s dream of protecting and preserving wild nature and the plant heritage of this area from increasing destruction by humans and to education about our interrelationship with nature.
Who is Aurora Garcia-Saqui?
“We had no idea how much people would like our art. We went to the market in town on Saturdays and soon enough, people began buying,” said Aurora. The market she speaks of is considered one of the largest and busiest in Cayo, and sees hundreds of locals and travelers passing through making purchases. “I remember one day we were just about to get up; it was about five in the morning, and we could hear a vehicle pull up, beeping loudly.” It was a van full of tourists who wanted a piece of slate carving for themselves; word had spread. “We had no idea how ideally situated we were. Our little village is in the right spot for visitors to pass through on their way to the Mountain Pine Ridge, and Caracol…” Business began booming, and the Garcia Sisters became legendary within tiny Belize.
What is REDD+?
Under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) (of which Belize is a signatory), REDD+ refers to reducing emissions from deforestation and forest degradation, sustainable forest management and the conservation of forest carbon stocks. REDD+ was proposed as a climate change mitigation mechanism whereby developing countries would be provided with financial rewards and incentives for reducing emissions from deforestation. The Bali Action Plan (2007) agreed to consider policy approaches and positive incentives that could deliver such emission reductions and through negotiations that followed the scope was expanded from a focus on deforestation to the breadth of activities that affect forests’ contribution to climate change mitigation. The Cancun agreement (2010) requested countries to address the drivers of deforestation and forest degradation, land tenure issues, forest governance issues, gender considerations, and environmental and social safeguards.
The objectives of entering into the REDD+ programme of the United Nations among others is to create an incentive mechanism for tropical forest protection, yield poverty reduction and biodiversity co-benefits countrywide. By accessing a World Bank grant of US $3.8 million dollars, Belize will be able to invest in training, capacity building, research and activities directed to forest protection countrywide.