Saturday, July 20, 2024

Environment

San Pedro Town Council plans to address beach trash

Improper and illegal garbage disposal in San Pedro Town has been a big problem, and authorities on the island, like The San Pedro Town Council (SPTC), continue to do everything they can to address the issue. One reported situation they want to point out is the ongoing practice of disposing of garbage on the beach. This includes yard and other types of debris, like household items left on the beaches. The SPTC said they would closely monitor this and remind island residents that such actions are illegal and that they are liable for an offense.

Hol Chan Marine Reserves address issues with in-water structure fees at Secret Beach

The Hol Chan Marine Reserve (HCMR) has expanded over the years and now includes marine areas within the popular Secret Beach northwest of Ambergris Caye. Regulations restrict water structures in marine reserves. However, at Secret Beach, an agreement was made between HCMR and the stakeholders where they suggested a fee to keep the water structures. This agreement limits the amount of structures in the water and requires the use of environmentally friendly materials for building. A fee of $100 per structure per month was agreed upon. Some businesses have complied with this fee, while others have not. Hol Chan has indicated that this non-compliance is causing issues, as some establishments have fallen behind on payments, resulting in high arrears.

Department of the Environment opens office in San Pedro Town, Ambergris Caye

An official ceremony occurred on Friday, June 21st, to inaugurate the Department of the Environment (DOE) office in San Pedro Town, Ambergris Caye. The office space will also accommodate the Belize Forest Department and will not only serve Ambergris Caye but Caye Caulker and Caye Chapel. The event was held at the Boca del Rio Beach Park and consisted of a brief ceremony attended by officials and guests. Area Representative and Minister of the Blue Economy and Disaster Risk Management, the Honourable Andre Perez, Minister of Sustainable Development, the Honourable Orlando Habet, Chief Environmental Officer Anthony Mai, and Councilor Jose Castellanos were present to officiate this significant milestone for the island.

San Pedro Town Council’s Natural Restoration project continues to build better beaches

The San Pedro Town Council (SPTC) is undertaking a natural-based beach nourishment plan to improve the coastal shores of Ambergris Caye. The project started on January 11, 2023, between Fido's Courtyard and the beachside that leads to the central park and an area in Boca del Rio. The initiative, led by Mayor Gualberto "Wally" Nuñez and marine scientists, aims to address coastal erosion caused by strong waves and the rise of local sea levels. The project will be completed in three weeks, with subsequent phases focusing on establishing green infrastructure and monitoring the beach's health.

Cayo Rosario project remains active; Environmental Clearance backs it up

The proposed tourism project on Cayo Rosario, a small island nestled within the Hol Chan Marine Reserve off the northwest coast of San Pedro, Ambergris Caye, continues to be controversial. This location is crucial, as it places the project in direct conflict with the reserve's conservation efforts. A united front of environmentalists, tourism stakeholders, and fly-fishing guides has vehemently opposed the project, which threatens the guides' livelihoods. Despite this widespread opposition, the project has managed to secure the required permits and has been granted Environmental Clearance by the Department of the Environment (DOE).

The Bonefish and Tarpon Trust conducts educational presentations at primary schools in the Cayes

On Wednesday, June 5th, the Bonefish and Tarpon Trust (BTT) wrapped up a series of presentations at several San Pedro Town and Caye Caulker primary schools. The science-based organization, committed to conserving flats, fisheries, and habitats, conducted educational sessions with students from Infant Two and Standard One classes. The sessions focused on protecting fisheries habitats and the life cycle of tarpon, a protected fish species in Belize.

SPTC raises mangrove-alteration awareness

The San Pedro Town Council (SPTC) is embarking on a significant new project in collaboration with a mission team from the World Bank under the Blue Cities and Beyond Project. This project is not just about nature-based solutions for marine and freshwater management but also about spurring economic growth, attracting investments, and ensuring the well-being of water resources. It's a crucial initiative to concentrate on coastal areas vulnerable to climate events such as storms, assessing the impact on these "blue spaces."

Belize participates in the People, Planet, and Prosperity Forum and the Natural Capital Symposium

Belize's efforts in Natural Capital Accounting and its Blue Bond Program are being showcased at the People, Planet, and Prosperity Forum (3Ps) at the Standford University campus in California, USA, from June 3 to 4.

Wildfires threatening Belize’s eco-tourism on the mainland

As of May 26th, wildfires have severely impacted several locations in Belize, including the Toledo District and the Mountain Pine Ridge Forest Reserve in the Cayo District. In Toledo, large tracts of agricultural land have been destroyed, while national parks and even communities have been affected in Cayo. Volunteers and officials from government and non-governmental agencies have been collectively battling the flames that displace wildlife, destroy habitats, and threaten the livelihood of thousands in the tourism industry in western Belize.

Human activity interfering with sea turtle nesting

The 2024 Ambergris Sea Turtle Nesting Season is underway, and the Hol Chan Marine Reserve (HCMR) team is actively monitoring it. On Thursday, May 15th, around 1:47PM, they confirmed two turtle crawls, likely occurring at night. The turtle made three unsuccessful attempts at digging her nest before finally succeeding. This brings the number of sea turtle nests in Ambergris Caye to six. While everyone is excited about the season, Hol Chan stressed that human activity remains a significant threat to a successful turtle nesting season. The urgency of this situation cannot be overstated.

The Department of the Environment to open office in San Pedro, Ambergris Caye

After years of community requests, the Department of the Environment (DOE) is preparing to open an office in San Pedro Town, Ambergris Caye. The tentative opening date is mid-June, and the office will have jurisdiction over Ambergris Caye, Caye Caulker, and Caye Chapel. The San Pedro DOE office will collaborate closely with the Hol Chan Marine Reserve, further emphasizing the community's role in this endeavor.