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#331451 - 04/04/09 09:11 PM Belize Audubon Society rejects South Beach project
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Belize Audubon Society rejects South Beach project

South Beach Belize is a mega project in San Pedro AC that has come under close scrutiny by environmentalists and others. Developers of the project propose to build a casino, hotel, condos, restaurant, sports complex, shopping mall, sporting complex and playgrounds fashioned after Florida’s South Beach. The project is planned to sit on a five hundred and forty five acre tract of land on the southern tip of San Pedro. It has mostly come under fire because of the environmental issues at stake in an area of close proximity to the Hol Chan Marine Reserve. One of the latest environmental groups to come out against the massive project is the Audubon Society which told News Five today that transforming the vast tract of land at Southern tip of San Pedro would have adverse effects on the Hol Chan Marine Reserve. The Audubon’s Advocacy Manager, Amanda Acosta, says that the project is not sustainable.

Amanda Acosta, Advocacy Manager, Audubon

“Specifically, the size is one of our main concerns. It’s five hundred acres, primarily mangrove and so that is a huge concern. Since San Pedro has so much development, the loss of those mangroves will be critical. Also the proximity to Hol Chan is of concern to us. There are still pending issues when it comes to Hol Chan. The boundary for Hol Chan for instance, needs to be clearly defined and it has been mentioned that a buffer needs to be placed between the development and Hol Chan. In light of those things not being sorted out yet, we have a big concern with that.”

Jose Sanchez
“When it comes to the Hol Chan reserve what will be the impact?”

Amanda Acosta
“The removal of the mangrove will have the most significant impact in that it is a nursery ground. It is also containing a lot of the ground because it is what you call inundated mangrove meaning it’s flushed with water regularly. There is also the concern of sedimentation. And a development of this size, even if they leave their buffers and all the requirements in their E.C.P. and by legislation, sedimentation, just filling of this property will have a lot of silt and impacts onto this area. Shark Ray Alley I believe is very close, and so your snorkeling, and your visibility, is one of those. We are advocating that the rest of the project be halted we don’t think that is suitable to San Pedro.”

Jose Sanchez
“Do you think the Audubon’s voice will be heard? It’s just you and the vast majority of N.E.A.C. is government.”

Amanda Acosta

“Well the hope is that if one person comes out publicly and makes that statement you’ll find out that you are not alone. And I have a feeling if you go to San Pedro you’ll find that we are not alone in this.”

Acosta says that the developers have to refer back to the National Environmental Appraisal Committee (NEAC) before the completion of phase one to have the next phase assessed and approved for development. She also expressed concern that more than half of N.E.A.C. members are aligned with the government. Last October when we reported on the project, developer Jeff Pierce defended it and told News Five that South Beach Belize stood to increase tax revenue and foreign exchange and create thousands of jobs.

Live and let live

#331517 - 04/05/09 04:12 PM Re: Belize Audubon Society rejects South Beach project [Re: Short]
sweetjane Offline
also from channel 5 :

D.O.E. investigating over 40 developments

Remember the story we aired back on January fifteenth where a portion of the Caribbean Sea a few miles northwest of San Pedro was surveyed and leased off for development? Well, News Five did a follow-up on that story today and found out that this particular case represents just one of over forty under investigation by various relevant government departments checking for their legitimacy and impact on the environment. Chief Environmental Officer, Martin Alegria, says they have assembled a team of experts from the various government departments including Fisheries, Petroleum, Lands, and Environment to assess the scope of the individual projects. So far, they’ve visited three sites.

Martin Alegria, Chief Environmental Officer
“We started a few weeks ago in terms of gathering the information on bajos, shoals issues in order to conduct a rapid ecological assessments on these. However, it’s not as fast as we thought that such assessments would have been done. What happen is first we need the location of these bajos or shoals and we are awaiting information from the Lands Department who are the ones who issued these in terms of geographical location, ownership, purpose of leasing or privatizing; those kinds of things. The legalities of it rest more with the National Lands Act in terms of the Lands and Surveys Department, what they should and should not do. The way we look at things from the perspective of the Department of Environment is the ecological aspects of it and many other things.”

“The last one was totally… you could even see sea grass beds, which indicates that juvenile conch and those type of marine life, which indicates its ecologically sensitive from the perspective of nursery. On those ecological grounds development of these sites might not be possible from our recommendation. We have indications when we go out there of two other sites around the Ambergris Caye area, which one of them from what we know traveling everyday, I’m still dumbfounded of how that can happen to be the issuing these types of—but those are things that in my opinion I have to go there and assess.”

Alegria says the process is a tedious one and will take several more months to complete.


#331553 - 04/06/09 01:37 AM Re: Belize Audubon Society rejects South Beach project [Re: sweetjane]
Marj Spellman Offline
I don't know about the affiliations of members of NEAC, but clearly something was wrong if even Phase One of South Beach was approved.

Each member should be required to publish an opinion that explains its vote. Affiliations aside, each one should have to provide its logic justifying going forward with Phase One.

Kudos to Belize Audobon, an organization not always willing to stand up in opposition to the GOB. It takes courage to risk one's job and organization in standing up for what's right. And most people and organizations don't have that courage. Until Belize has many more such people/organizations, it cannot move too far forward.

#331574 - 04/06/09 10:40 AM Re: Belize Audubon Society rejects South Beach project [Re: Marj Spellman]
JZB Offline
I believe the Belize Audobon sits on NEAC.


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