The Belize Audubon Society co-manages several national parks in the country. Three facilities have recently been damaged and two of them have been severely ravaged by Hurricane Richard. While you just saw the damage to the forest at Caves Branch, the spectacular St. Herman’s Blue Hole National Monument which is nestled across the highway from the jungle lodge, is now closed. The Audubon’s publicity coordinator says Guanacaste Park which is located at the entrance to Belmopan, has just been added to the closure list.
Dirk Francisco, Publicity Coordinator, BAS
“St. Herman’s Blue Hole National Park is currently closed until further notice because of some impacts of Hurricane Richard on the protected area. Many of the vegetation in the protected area has fallen because of the strong winds and rain that occurred in the area. Blue Hole itself is inaccessible because all the vegetation around Blue Hole actually fell around the area and nine steps from Blue Hole have actually washed away. So Belize Audubon Society is currently rehabilitating the infrastructure in the protected area to allow for user access.”
“I see you have people cutting down at the Blue Hole with machetes.”
“They are clearing back a path for accessibility to attractions at Blue Hole because it has been cut off because of the falling trees. Guanacaste National Park as many Belizeans have seen right now again the vegetation fot he area; most of them have fallen. The visitor center was totally covered with vegetation and as you can see right now they have been cleared and many of the big trees in Guanacaste have actually fallen. At the time the protected area is closed due to visitor safety.”
“The economic loss from the two parks, have you been able to put a figure to it?”
“Right now it’s hard to quantify because it hasn’t been much infrastructural damage to the protected area, it’s just the fallen trees and its always hard to put a price on mother nature.”
“But you’re not receiving those visitor fees?”
“Well the visitor fees impact the Belize Audubon Society indirectly. But right now we don’t have a dollar figure to what we are losing, but we are trying our best to re-open as soon as possible.”
The Belize Audubon Society is also suffering one more loss. Though not publicized, its experienced Executive Director, Anna Hoare, is also leaving the organization. We wish her well on her future endeavors.