Belmopan- A total of 59 Forest Rangers of both government and forest co-management agencies were sworn-in yesterday as ‘Special Constable’ following two weeks of intensive training at the Belize Police Academy. The training, which began on 14th May, 2018, culminated with Forest Rangers being sworn-in to exercise greater authority to arrest and seize for forest, protected areas, and wildlife-related crimes.
German Novelo, Key Biodiversity Areas Project Manager, stated that “the only way we can successfully stem illegal forest activities is by empowering our hard-working forest rangers within our partner agencies with the legal authority to seize and arrest.”
In speaking on the training conducted prior to the swearing-in, Novelo added that both the training and swearing-in were essential to strengthening the capacity of both Forest Department officers and its partners to enforce forest laws.
According to the Chief Forest Officer, Wilber Sabido, the training and swearing-in of Special Constables delivers on the Forest Department’s mandate to improve forest management compliance. As an intense two-week training, it was uniquely tailored to strengthen rangers’ knowledge and skills to effectively enforce all aspects of green-laws legislations, such as the Forest Act, Wildlife Protection Act, and the National Protected Areas System Act, and other legislation.
During the training, participants learned how to use a broad range of innovative and specialized law enforcement techniques, such as investigative skills, search and seizure skills, and gathering court evidence, through extensive mock-drills and simulation exercises. The training also exposed forest and wildlife officers and rangers to a wide range of tools and services available through partnering with other law enforcement agencies to respond to illegal forest crimes. Additionally, the training emphasized continued inter-agency collaboration and inter-departmental coordination in law enforcement activities, essential to combat forest and wildlife crimes.
The Rangers will be soon deployed in various nature areas of the country.