2012-03-06

Nicaraguan Army Conducts Operation Green Gold to Protect the Environment

Members of BECO, an environmental unit of the Nicaraguan Army, seized illegally logged sawn planks and timber of granadillo wood. Photo: Nicaraguan Army

Members of BECO, an environmental unit of the Nicaraguan Army, seized illegally logged sawn planks and timber of granadillo wood. Photo: Nicaraguan Army

Claudia Sánchez-Bustamante/DIÁLOGO

Since January 5, the Nicaraguan Army’s Ecological Battalion (BECO) has been carrying out Operation Green Gold to protect and conserve that Central American nation’s chief natural reserves.

As a result of the operation, which is focused on reducing indiscriminate logging in the country’s major natural reserves, BECO achieved its first victory with the successful seizure of more than 110,000 linear feet of valuable wood cut by illegal loggers in the Wawashang Reserve, located in the country’s South Atlantic autonomous region, according to the Nicaraguan Army’s website.

The operation represents Central America’s first established effort to look for a military-backed solution to the effects of climate change, according to a report by BBCMundo.com. It was conducted jointly with teams from the Ministry of the Environment and Natural Resources, as well as from the National Forest Institute and the Nicaraguan Environmental Attorney General’s Office, with the support of Air Force and Navy troops assigned to the district.

“There are unscrupulous people who take advantage of the economic limitations of the people in this region, and in the end, it’s foreigners who benefit, while the local communities are left with indiscriminate deforestation,” Colonel Néstor López told the BBC.

BECO units are also working on raising awareness by holding meetings with the local population to familiarize them with the work done by the Nicaraguan Army, as well as to show them their understanding and readiness to support the efforts to conserve the country’s natural heritage carried out by state institutions, according to the national daily El Nuevo Diario’s website.

BECO was formed recently, after the Nicaraguan Army identified in 2010 the need to create a military unit dedicated to protecting the country’s environment. As a consequence, the Ecological Battalion was formed in late November, in order to carry out missions to protect Nicaraguan reserves and protected areas, including the preservation, conservation, and restoration of the environment and natural resources.

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