Sunday, May 19, 2024

Offices for the Department of Environment and Forest Department to open in San Pedro

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As per the Area Representative of Belize Rural South (Caye Caulker and Ambergris Caye), the Honourable Andre Perez, San Pedro, Ambergris Caye, will soon see the opening of local branches for the Department of Environment (DOE) and the Belize Forest Department. This is a request islanders, particularly those in conservation, have advocated for years as they believe many construction developments in San Pedro are not environmentally friendly and do not adhere to proper regulations.
The announcement of these new offices opening on the island is welcome news for concerned island residents. Perez said it was something he had been pushing for since being elected, as it is needed on the island. According to Perez, opening these offices that oversee environmental issues surrounding construction developments was also a promise from the Minister of Sustainable Development, Climate Change, and Disaster Risk Management, the Honourable Orlando Habet. “We have offered them assistance in any way we can, such as boats to move around. This will be for both departments; they will have access to boats even to do inspections in Caye Caulker when needed,” said Perez.

Honourable Andre Perez

Perez went on to clarify that the offices of DOE and the Forest Department in San Pedro will have two permanent staff members. The office location has not been confirmed as yet. Once they open, islanders with concerns can easily visit to make reports they may have, file complaints, or apply for licenses issued by the departments. “I’ve been asking for it for quite some time now. I am glad it’s happening,” said Perez.
Minister Habet agrees with the need for these branches on the island. “Three years have passed by, so we need to see what’s happening now, what improvements have been made, and what needs there are. While in San Pedro Town, we upgraded the National Emergency Management Organization office.

Honourable Orlando Habet

We also want to incorporate the Department of Environment and the Forest Department,” said Habet. The Minister added that because of tourism, there is fast development in Ambergris Caye and Caye Caulker. Thus, there is a need for a permanent presence from the DOE and the Forest Department. “We are aware of the developments, and we want the developments, but we want these to be sustainable,” said Habet.
Sustainable development has been the wish of concerned islanders. On many occasions, the President of the San Pedro Tour Guide Association, Philip ‘Billy’ Leslie, and other leaders in tourism say that they welcome development to the island, but it should be done sustainably. They hope the new government branches do well and enforce the environmental policies before it is too late.
Over the years, massive development projects have destroyed beach areas and acres of mangroves. Those concerned about the natural resources supporting the tourism and fishing industry in and around Ambergris Caye continue to voice their discontent over such practices deemed irresponsible. Habet’s ministry said they understand these issues. It reiterated that investors with a project should be monitored and given the green light only after going through the environmental impact assessments if needed. The Department of Environment and Forestry offices on the island will also be tasked with ensuring environmental clearances are met and promoting more sustainable projects on the Cayes with the least impact on the natural environment.

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