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Saturday, November 27, 2010

ACTION ALERT

ACTION ALERT
What You Can Do to Help Protect San Pedro
Write the Forest Department to encourage it to deny David Mitchell and his company a permit for mangrove destruction in San Pedro. A sample letter is attached, but you are encouraged to express your views in your own words. Letters should be sent to fdsecretary@mnrei.gov.bz.
SAMPLE LETTER:
Forest Department
fdsecretary@mnrei.gov.bz
Re: Mangrove Destruction, David Mitchell
Dear Mr Sabido - Chief Forestry Officer,
I am writing to express deep concern about mangrove destruction in connection with the development planned for the West side of San Pedro,  Ambergris Caye.
I understand that David Mitchell and/or his company will be requesting a permit to proceed with the mangrove destruction necessary for its construction plans on the West side of San Pedro Town. I urge the Forest Department to deny such permit in light of the following factors:
  • The project's proximity to San Pedro Towns Mangroves, a resource of enormous economic and ecological value to San Pedro Town the intended elimination of mangrove nurseries for such endangered species as Nassau grouper.
  • The adverse effect of David Mitchells Development on the commercial fisheries that benefit from mangrove nurseries.
  • The planned elimination of mangroves used for feeding, resting and breeding by numerous bird and reptile species.
  • Removal of the Mangrove Cayes on the west side of San Pedro town will take away the town’s natural protection from hurricanes destructive erosion.
  • The danger of increased sedimentation to Ambergris Cayes Reef caused by mangrove destruction.
  • The danger of increased sedimentation Ambergris Cayes Reef caused by the excavation and dredging described in the project plan, exacerbated by the absence of mangroves.
  • UNESCO has sent a letter to the Minister of Natural Resources, Gaspar Vega complaining about, quote “massive removal of mangrove forests” and how this continuing will in effect lose Belize their World Heritage Site status. Belize's Barrier Reef System was given World Heritage status by UNESCO on December 4, 1996. This status is in serious jeopardy from developers clearing large areas of important mangroves.
Neither the tourism sectors of San Pedro Town, Ambergris Caye, nor all those dependent upon tourism, can afford degradation of the mangroves. A permit for mangrove destruction in connection with construction of David Mitchell’s development project cannot be justified in the public interest.
Thank you for enforcing the Forest Act, Chapter 213, and for protecting the forest assets of Belize.

Sincerely,

Lawyers, Guns and Money


Lawyers, Guns and Money
One of the biggest challenges facing Ambergris Caye is how to balance environmental protection with the temptations of powerful foreign developers. It’s not just a problem for Ambergris Caye, the entire of Central and South America are being preyed upon by North American developers and industry that have been blocked by laws regulating their environmentally unsound practices in their own countries and have now moved their operations to a more na├»ve arena where profit can be maximized because of the absence of environmental considerations and government controls.
The young and inexperienced governments like Belize are succumbing to the enticements of proposals made by these experienced foreigners.
On the up-side, the past several decades has seen citizens and environmental groups, or non-governmental organizations (NGOs), pulling together to pressure governments to pass laws to protect the environment.
In the past decade, NGOs have applied a diverse array of strategies to counter negative influences including promoting laws to protect the environment, developing lawsuits against governments and developers.
In my opinion these third party intervention groups like the Ambergris Caye Citizens for Sustainable Development are the only realistic hope of controlling the impending disaster from uncontrolled development on our isla bonita.
If you love this place like I do, meeting attendance, membership fees and contributions to environmental defense funds managed by reputable groups like the ACCSD is our best way of showing it.
Ambergris Caye Citizens for Sustainable Development

Friday, November 26, 2010

Mangroves that protect San Pedro Town are Threatened.

As Hurricane Keith battered San Pedro for two and a half days in October, some residents received first hand lessons on how effective mangroves can be at dissipating the strength of storm waves. Martin Hoffmann of the Tres Cocos area saw his house being hit with six foot waves while other homes in this neighborhood did not receive any or only minimal wave damage. Hoffmann explains that his house lies in front of a large swath of land that has been cleared of all mangrove coverage in anticipation of a future housing being built. Like wise the little town of San Pedro was protected by a barrier of mangroves directly behind it. This life saving barrier from hurricanes has been sold to Developer David Mitchel.

Mangrovers Behind San Pedro Town, aka Peanut Caye Belize


Friday, November 5, 2010

Cayes and Mangroves

 
Cayes
 Belize has over 1000 islands, ranging in size form a small clump of overwashed mangroves to the large Ambergris Caye. There is no separate definition to differentiate between an island and a caye. The latter is generally referred to as an island with sand and vegetation. If we look only at the larger islands, however, approximately 200-300 cayes find shelter within the Belizean coastal zone.
Eleven types of cayes have been distinguished within the Belizean coastal zone. They are categorized based on whether vegetated or not, type of vegetation and location. For example, an unvegetated sand caye is Curlew Caye, a vegetated sand caye is Tobacco Caye and Harvest Caye is a coastal barrier caye. Cayes are very fragile areas as they are prime targets for tourism and other recreational development. Remember that with uncontrolled development irreparable damage can occur.
Mangroves
Belize, like other tropical and subtropical countries, has an ideal climate and other environmental factors such as salinity, tidal fluctuation, sedimentation and wave energy in which mangrove forests thrive.
To many of us, mangroves may seem unappealing, so much that these fertile ecosystems have been seen as perfect dumpsites as well as areas to be drained, filled and cleared for development. Fortunately, their ecological importance has been recognised by scientists around the world, and efforts have been made to protect these productive and delicate ecosystems against encroachment and pollution so thay they can be kept as a link for the interchange with those other ecosystems to which they are intimately connected.
Mangroves are a group of woody salt tolerant trees that are adapted to grow in the intertidal zone. They are highly productive ecosystems which provide essential nursery grounds for many marine species such as fish and lobster. They provide food and shelter for many organisms both above and below the water. They also serve as protection against land erosion and storm damage and act as a buffer zone that filters pollutants and prevents them from reaching the sea