Mark Andre: Seeking a Sister Forest in Belize

Saturday, February 23, 2013

February 12, 2013

Wilber Sabido, Director

The Forest Department of Belize

Forest Drive

Belmopan City, Belize


Dear Mr. Sabido:

The City of Arcata is interested in exploring the potential for a Sister Forest relationship with the Toledo District of Belize and the Belize Forestry Department. Potential goals of such a relationship could include:

• Sharing information in fire management and control, climate change adaptation both locales will be able to share experiences and lessons learned and promote the exchange of information and the understanding in areas of mutual interest, in order to support the conservation and management of biodiversity and natural and cultural resources.

• Providing an in informational exchange in sustainable forestry and community based approaches to sustainable management of native forest types, implementing research, inventory and monitoring programs necessary to achieve success.

• Promoting and fostering ecologically based forest management and markets for ecologically based forest management products.

• Working toward common stewardship goals, maintaining ecosystems and habitats; foster tourism, support local economies, improve resource qualities, and promote stewardship.

The U.S. National Park Service, Mesa Verde National Park has a “sister park” relationship with  the Caracol Archaeological Reserve in Belize. Perhaps this relationship can provide a framework for a similar working forest type of “sister forest” with Arcata and the Toledo District.

Arcata’s Forest Management Committee (FMC) is a City Council appointed technical advisory committee with expertise in forest ecology, wildlife, fisheries, geology and watershed management. The FMC met and discussed the potential for a sister forest arrangement with Belize and they enthusiastically endorsed the concept.

If the concept gains momentum, at some point we can formalize the relationship via the Arcata City Council.

Community-based forestry in Arcata is a participatory approach to forest management that strengthens the communities’ capacity to build a vibrant local economy — while protecting and enhancing  local forest ecosystems.

By integrating ecological, social, and economic strategies into cohesive approaches to forestry issues, community-based approaches in Arcata give local residents both the opportunity and the responsibility to manage their natural resources effectively and to enjoy the benefits of that responsibility.

I have attached an information sheet that describes the Arcata Community Forest. Additional Information can be found on the City website at

I look forward to exploring this possibility with Belize.



Registered Professional Forester #2391

Director, Environmental Services Department

cc:  Hon. Lisel Alamilla, Minister of Foresty, Fisheries and Sustainable Development


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