Central America faces severe deforestation and forest degradation due to myriad socioeconomic and institutional reasons. Since the region is part of the Mesoamerican biodiversity hotspot, biodiversity conservation becomes an even greater priority.
Dr. Alavalapati, ECPA Fellow from Virginia Tech, traveled to Belmopan, Belize, on November 6-8, 2012 to host the Forum “Building Capacities for Sustainable Forested Landscapes” at the University of Belize. He presented on the challenges and opportunities relating to forests for energy security and climate mitigation. He also chaired the Roundtable for Capacity Building Initiative discussion to revisit future actions to better promote sustainable forestry methods in Central America. Dr. Alavalapati explained that building capacities to sustainably conserve and manage forested landscapes is critical to increase economic and employment opportunities, reduce emission of greenhouse gases, and conserve biodiversity.
As a result of the dialogue initiated at the forum roundtable, a collaborative partnership is being established among government, non-government, private, and academic organizations geared at building regional capacities to promote sustainable forest management for economic, environmental, and societal benefits. Drawing on the strengths of the partnership members, a series of short courses and workshops will be offered on key topics of sustainable forestry and land use targeting government and non-government organizations, private sector, agriculture and forestland owners, academic institutions and the public in general.
The forum held in Belize marks the launch of this coalition seeking to build the capacity of Central American nations in the field of sustainable forests and land use, one of the seven pillars of ECPA.
Dr. Alavalapati is the head of the Virginia Tech Forest Resources and Environmental Conservation Department.