Wednesday, July 24, 2024

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

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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.
Castellanos opened the formalities by sharing some remarks on behalf of San Pedro’s Mayor Gualberto ‘Wally’ Nuñez. “Today we not only celebrate the opening of an important office, but the strengthening of our commitment to protecting and preserving nature,” he said. “Our environment is the foundation of our existence. It provides us with the air we breathe, the water we drink, and the resources we depend on.” Castellanos reassured the audience of the officials’ unwavering commitment to environmental preservation. He added that the opening of DOE’s office on the island is a testament to this commitment and the collective dedication and hard work to address the pressing environmental challenges threatening the natural resources surrounding the Cayes.
The opening of the DOE office on Ambergris Caye was an initiative by the Honourable Perez, who partnered with the Ministry of Sustainable Development. He was very proud to have such an important office now established on the island. He emphasized the crucial role of the DOE and the Belize Forest Department in guiding the sustainable development of the Cayes. “I welcome DOE as a symbol of the government’s commitment to work hand in hand with our community in protecting and sustaining our precious environment,” said Perez. He noted that development is essential, particularly in Ambergris Caye, the fastest-growing municipality in the country. “But with that growth, we need to be careful. We must do it in a very sustainable manner,” Perez said. He mentioned that there must be guidance to strike that delicate balance of development while preserving the environment, and the DOE office is a significant step in this direction.
Minister Habet said that having DOE and the Belize Forest Department on Ambergris Caye is part of the national agenda called Plan Belize. “The primary mandate, collectively, for these departments will be to ensure that the entire Ambergris Caye and surrounding areas develop in an environmentally friendly and sustainable manner,” said Habet. He further explained that DOE’s presence will ensure that all significant development projects are properly monitored and environmentally compliant. Habet stated that this will be achieved through operational, advisory, and regulatory strategies addressing the island’s current and future anthropogenic threats. These include rapid tourism development, clearing of mangroves, seabed dredging, landfilling, and improper management of liquid, solid, and hazardous waste.
Before the ceremony wrapped, Chief Environmental Officer Mai reiterated the importance of a collaborative approach for better results and the protection of the environment. “The environmental challenges affecting our country cannot be resolved by DOE alone,” said Mai. “We need all key partners to manage the Jewel well.” He added that development and conservation could coexist when everyone does their part, and sustainability is prioritized.
Afterward, there was an official reveal of the office sign featuring its location and contact information. The office is on the third floor along Laguna Drive, near the Boca del Rio Beach Park. A tour of the office followed, and both officials and guests had the opportunity to view the facilities. It was revealed that the new office of the National Emergency Management Organization (NEMO) is also on the same floor. NEMO is the agency primarily responsible for responding to natural disasters such as hurricanes and floods. They also assist in distributing humanitarian aid when needed.

The new DOE office on Ambergris Caye is open Monday through Friday, 8AM to 5PM, and can be reached at 226-3073 or by email at [email protected].

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