Protection of the RBCMA is through the team of rangers, stationed at Hill Bank. The rangers’ primary tasks are to maintain a permanent presence at the gates and conduct patrols (including aerial patrols) to detect possible encroachment, deforestation, illegal logging, illegal agriculture (mainly marijuana cultivation), and to monitor fires. When necessary and appropriate, enforcement interventions (particularly involving illegal drug cultivation and timber theft) are made in conjunction with the Belize Defense Force (BDF), Forest Department (FD) and the Police.
The ranger unit employ a fleet of two pickup trucks, two all terrain vehicles and three boats of various sizes. Additional support from other vehicles are also employed from time to time. Fuel consumption and the wear and tear on the vehicles are the main obstacles the limit the number patrols that can be carried out during the year.
Three main access gates leading into the property from major roadways are manned on a 24/7 basis by the rangers. These include the North Gate on the Gallon Jug Road, the Bergens Gate on the San Felipe Road and East Gate on the Rancho Dolores Road. All gates have accommodating facilities and communication equipment used to maintain daily contact with the Hill Bank Field Station and La Milpa Ecolodge and Research Center. Vehicles and persons entering and leaving the property are checked and then authorized to enter based on common agreements with the neighboring properties of Gallon Jug and Yalbac.
As defined in our Management Plan the Protection Programme plays a critical role in maintaining the biological health of the Rio Bravo Conservation and Management Area. Several threats have been identified which include hunting, timber theft, incursion involving marijuana field cultivations, hardwood and pine savannah forest fires. Programme for Belize has implemented a multi-pronged approach in addressing the major threats outlined which include patrolling, entry controls, passive protection and changing public perceptions. Patrolling activities include rotational work carried out by the rangers conducting frequent trips in and around the Rio Bravo. Patrolling activities provide pre-deterrent mechanisms due to the visibility of the rangers as well as post-deterrent mechanism subsequent to any intervention that is carried out.