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#502951 - 04/03/15 12:48 PM Leonardo DiCaprio Builds an Eco-Resort
Marty Offline

In what may be his highest-impact leading role yet, the actor Leonardo DiCaprio, the Oscar-nominated “Wolf of Wall Street,” is planning to heal an island.

A well-known environmental activist, Mr. DiCaprio bought Blackadore Caye, 104 acres of wild, unpopulated land off the coast of Belize, with a partner soon after he set foot in the country a decade ago. “It was like heaven on earth,” he said, speaking by telephone from Los Angeles. “And almost immediately, I found this opportunity to purchase an island there.”

Now Mr. DiCaprio has joined with Paul Scialla, the chief executive of Delos, a New York City-based developer, to create an eco-conscious resort there. When it opens to guests in 2018, “Blackadore Caye, a Restorative Island” will feature the trappings of many luxury resorts, with sprawling villas, infinity pools and stunning sunset views.

But the “Restorative” in the title refers not just to the impact the island might have on visitors, but to the island itself. Blackadore Caye has suffered from overfishing, an eroding coastline and the deforestation of its mangrove trees, and the partners mean to put it back to rights.

Blackadore Caye is a 45-minute boat ride from Philip S. W. Goldson International Airport in Belize City and a 15-minute boat ride from San Pedro, the nearest big town. The island has been used for hundreds of years, according to Juan Rovalo, a biologist who leads a team of scientists studying the caye.

It was a popular spot for fishermen, who would stop on their way to markets in Mexico and cut mangrove, using the wood for fires to smoke their catch and the conch that they took from the reef, littering the island with thousands of empty shells. More recently, he said, the island’s once plentiful palm trees have been uprooted and used to landscape the grounds of hotels in San Pedro.

The villas for guests on Blackadore Caye will be built atop a massive platform that stretches in an arc over the water, with artificial reefs and fish shelters underneath. A nursery on the island will grow indigenous marine grass to support a manatee conservation area, and mangrove trees will be replanted, replacing invasive species. A team of designers, scientists, engineers and landscape architects, some of whom have spent more than 18 months studying Blackadore Caye, will monitor the resort’s impact on its surroundings.

“The main focus is to do something that will change the world,” Mr. DiCaprio said. “I couldn’t have gone to Belize and built on an island and done something like this, if it weren’t for the idea that it could be groundbreaking in the environmental movement.”

Continue reading the main story An avid scuba diver, Mr. DiCaprio first visited Belize in 2005 to swim its barrier reef. “As soon as I got there, I fell in love,” Mr. DiCaprio said. “Belize is truly unique. It has the second largest coral reef system in the world, and it has some of the most biodiverse marine life, like the manatee population and almost every species of fish you can imagine. Then there are the Mayan temples and the culture.”


He soon purchased Blackadore Caye for $1.75 million with Jeff Gram, the owner of Cayo Espanto Island Resort, a luxury vacation spot on another private island in Belize, where prices in April for two guests ranged from about $1,695 to $2,295 a night, according to its website. Mr. Gram said he would bring his experience in owning and operating island resorts to the new venture. “As for Blackadore,” he said, “I believe that it will be an incredible private island that will set the mark for all future island developments.”

Mr. DiCaprio said it had taken him 10 years to find the right development partner; a deal with Four Seasons Hotels fell through. “My goal was always the fact that I wanted to create something not just environmental, but restorative,” he said. “A showcase for what is possible.”

Restorative Islands L.L.C., which is owned by Mr. Scialla, will build the resort at Blackadore Caye, and Restorative Hospitality, a division of Delos, will be its operator.

Founded by Mr. Scialla when he was a partner at Goldman Sachs, Delos is best known for its health-centric development at 66 East 11th Street. The five-unit condominium, where a penthouse is on the market for $39.8 million, has several features designed to encourage good health, including vitamin C-infused showers, kitchens outfitted with juicing stations and lighting designed to promote sound sleep.

Mr. DiCaprio serves on the Delos advisory board, along with Deepak Chopra, the self-improvement guru; Richard A. Gephardt, the former United States representative from Missouri; and doctors at the Mayo Clinic and the Cleveland Clinic.

“The idea at Blackadore Caye is to push the envelope for what sustainability means — moving the idea beyond environmental awareness into restoration,” Mr. Scialla said. “We don’t want to just do less harm or even have zero impact, but to actually help heal the island, to make it better than before.”

Mr. DiCaprio, who sits on the boards of several nonprofits, including the World Wildlife Fund, was an early investor in Delos. He also owns an apartment at 66 East 11th Street, which he rents out.

“We are pushing each other the whole way to test the boundaries of what is possible,” said Mr. DiCaprio of his partnership with Mr. Delos and the lead architect and designer, Jason F. McLennan. “With the onset of climate change, there are huge challenges, so we want the structure to not only enhance and improve the environment, but to be a model for the future. That includes restoring the island, creating conservation areas where we can hold research conferences, and regenerating the entire ecosystem to bring it back to its original form and beyond.”

The ecotourism market is large and growing, with eight billion ecotourist visits a year worldwide, according to the Center for Responsible Travel. Ecotourism is travel that minimizes negative impact on a location and seeks to preserve its natural resources.


A rendering of the resort.

Belize, which is slightly smaller than Massachusetts and has just 341,000 people, according to the World Factbook, a website and publication of the Central Intelligence Agency, is highly dependent on eco-tourism. Coral reef and mangrove-associated tourism contributed as much as $196 million to its national economy, or roughly 15 percent of its gross domestic product in 2007, according to a study by the World Resources Institute.

Yet Belize has not enjoyed the same environmental protections as, say, Costa Rica, which was one of the first countries to capitalize on ecotourism.

“I think Belize, in the past, it hasn’t been as stringent and we have seen an adverse impact, especially near the coast,” said Nadia Bood, who is the head of the World Wildlife Fund’s Belize office. Belize is hoping to reverse this trend and in 2013, developed a strict zoning plan for its coastline that is under review and, according to Ms. Bood, should pass into law later this year.

But while ecotourism is a hot topic, it is unclear if it actually works.

“No hotel can be truly sustainable because you have to fly to get there,” said Jan H. Katz, a senior lecturer at the Cornell School of Hotel Administration. “If you really care about sustainability, instead of enlarging your carbon footprint by flying to a remote island and then creating the garbage that they need to compost, just give money to a conservation program.” What people are buying, Ms. Katz said, is the status of staying at an exclusive eco-resort.

Mr. DiCaprio and Mr. Scialla look at it another way. Visits to Blackadore Caye, they say, will help reverse some of the environmental damage the island has already suffered. While Blackadore Caye is not occupied — the scientists studying there must camp and pack in their own food — it has been affected by human activity.

“Between removing the mangrove and the palms and other indigenous plants,” said Mr. Rovalo, the biologist, erosion has taken its toll on the coastline and the small dunes that protect the island. “Now,” he said, “a small wind is all that is needed to create a big wave that goes directly into the island’s soil and starts the erosion process.”

Blackadore Caye will adhere to the Living Building Challenge, stringent environmental requirements including water and energy self-sufficiency created by Mr. McLennan, the architect, who is a member of the Delos advisory board. Blackadore Caye will be the first luxury resort to adhere to these standards, and among the world’s most eco-friendly, Mr. McLennan said.

Among the design principles that Mr. McLennan is using is the concept of sacred geometry, in which the proportions of buildings are derived from mathematical proportions found in nature.

“Many of Delos’s evidence-based health-wellness amenities and technologies will be built into the architecture,” he said, “such as state-of-the-art LED circadian lighting and controls that help support optimal sleep at night and alertness throughout the day, as well as advanced air and water purification systems to ensure the highest quality air and water. Additionally, healthy, nontoxic materials and finishes will be used exclusively throughout.”

Almost 45 percent of the island will be designated a conservation area. The resort will be built using as many native materials as possible, and the developers hope to rely on local laborers, who will be trained in green-building techniques.

As for the guests, guidelines will dictate what they can take with them to the resort. Plastic water bottles, for example, will not be allowed on the island. Once there, guests will go through an ecology orientation program.

Wellness programming will be part of a stay at Blackadore Caye. Mr. Chopra, founder of the Chopra Foundation for health and well-being, who also lives at 66 East 11th Street, will spearhead a program focused on health and anti-aging.

The 68 guest villas will have access to nearly a mile of secluded beach, grassland and jungle. Prices for a stay at the villas have not been announced. For those vacationers who prefer their own houses, 48 will be built on the island, with price tags ranging from $5 million to $15 million. Some of the houses will boast both a sunrise and a sunset beach, and homeowners will pay a monthly fee for housekeeping, meals and other services.


Each building will have several functions, with the platform, for example, not only sheltering guests on top and coral and fish underneath, but also harnessing the breeze that comes off the water to keep the villas cool.

“The goal was to create something that wasn’t contrived — a tiki hut or some image of a Hawaiian getaway — but rather the history of the place, the Mayan culture, with a more modern approach,” Mr. McLennan said. “We want to change the outlook of people who visit, on both the environment writ large and also their personal well-being.”

NYTimes


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#502954 - 04/03/15 01:43 PM Re: Leonardo DiCaprio Builds an Eco-Resort [Re: Marty]
Nobody You Know Offline
I liked it better when his plan was to make it a refuge for wayward Supermodels...

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#502959 - 04/03/15 03:34 PM Re: Leonardo DiCaprio Builds an Eco-Resort [Re: Marty]
Diane Campbell Offline
If only these constructions came at a price we could all afford and imitate.

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#503120 - 04/08/15 02:19 PM Re: Leonardo DiCaprio Builds an Eco-Resort [Re: Marty]
Barbara K Offline
At least it sounds way better than Punto Azul
_________________________
www.barbsbelize.com

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#503151 - 04/09/15 11:36 AM Re: Leonardo DiCaprio Builds an Eco-Resort [Re: Marty]
Marty Offline

Cabinet Hasn’t Seen Plans for Blackadore Caye

Blackadore Caye – it’s what everybody’s talking about in the past few days after international news reports revealed mega-million dollar plans for an eco-resort. The private island is owned by actor Leonardo DiCaprio, and he has big plans for the one hundred and four acre island, including more than sixty luxury condominiums built over water, and allegedly selling for five to fifteen million dollars each. According to those reports, construction of the massive resort will start in 2015 and finish in 2018. It seemed like a done deal, since one of those news reports even carried a quote from Prime Minister Dean Barrow expressing support for the resort. Still, Minister of Tourism Manuel Heredia told News Five today that as far as he’s aware, it’s far from a certainty and Cabinet hasn’t even received any plans on the resort.

Manuel Heredia Jr., Minister of Tourism

“At this point and time I know that we have spoken slightly, because we have not received the actual plans of the development, but we have heard of the type of development that they want to do over there and I for one, because it is in my constituency, believe that it is a wonderful eco-tourism project that they want to do over there…the Di Carpio Group that has hired some of the best architects to do this one. But at this point I understand that they are working on their EIA, looking at what needs to be fine-tuned, but at the end of the day whatever support is within the law that we can grant, I am there to do so on behalf of the government.”

Manuel Heredia Jr.

Reporter

“Sir so just to clarify…it has not even gotten to the point where Cabinet gives a green light to go and examine it?”

Manuel Heredia Jr.

“As far as I am concerned, they have not been given a green light. There have been back and forth as to what they want, how they want to do it, and that is what we have briefly discussed. But we are yet to receive a formal plan where as you would know, there is a sub-committee that will revisit, will visit these types of projects, and it hasn’t reached that point yet.”

Reporter

“A lot of people don’t understand the process that a project of this type goes through. You said there has been some back and forth and you all have seen a plan. The Ministry of the Environment has not become involved at all at this time?”

Manuel Heredia Jr.

“At this point that I know…I definitely will be very honest – I don’t know if they have come into the picture. I know that the first thing that is done is that when the project plans are completed that is submitted to this subcommittee of Cabinet that usually looks to the merits and economics of the project.”

Channel 5


Leonardo DiCaprio unveils plans for Blackadore Caye: a Restorative Island

Award winning movie star, Leonardo DiCaprio has revealed plans for a multi-million dollar eco-resort on Blackadore Caye in Belize. DiCaprio, who is a publicized environmentalist, bought Blackadore Caye several years ago. The project, called Blackadore Caye: a Restorative Island, is expected to be the epitone of luxury while promoting sustainable development and improving the local ecosystem. The resort is expected to open in 2018 and is developed by Paul Scialla, founder and Chief Executive Officer of Delos Developments.


Located about 7.5 miles west of Ambergris Caye, Blackadore Caye is about 104 acres in size. The resort is expect to feature 68 villas, 48 estate home, a private club house, world-class restaurants, a spa and wellness center, the Deepak Chopra Center for Renewal and Anti-Aging, and several infinity pool among other first class amenities. But the resort won’t be just about luxury, the development will also consist of artificial reefs to protect the island from erosion and shelter juvenile fish, a nursery to grow indigenous marine grass to support a manatee conservation area, and mangrove trees will be replanted to replace invasive species. “The main focus is to do something that will change the world. I couldn’t have gone to Belize and built on an island and done something like this, if it weren’t for the idea that it could be groundbreaking in the environmental movement,” said DiCaprio an interview with New York Times.


According to Scialla, Blackadore Caye will be unlike any eco-resort in the world. “The idea at Blackadore Caye is to push the envelope for what sustainability means, moving the idea beyond environmental awareness into restoration. We don’t want to just do less harm or even have zero impact, but to actually help heal the island, to make it better than before,” said Scialla. They believe that the development will improve the ecosystem around the Blackadore Caye and restore it to a state of natural harmony. “With the onset of climate change, there are huge challenges, so we want the structure to not only enhance and improve the environment, but to be a model for the future,” said DiCaprio.


During the construction, a group of scientists will be tasked with the monitoring the impact of the development on the neighboring environment. Even Prime Minister of Belize, Dean Barrow is on board with the project Blackadore Caye: a Restorative Island. “We welcome the benefits that come with the development of Blackadore Caye, including the commitment to enhance local employment, the positive international exposure for Belize and the economic impact of a project of this magnitude,” said Barrow.


DiCaprio originally purchased Blackadore Caye for an estimated $1.75 million.

San Pedro Sun


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#508064 - 10/07/15 10:58 AM Re: Leonardo DiCaprio Builds an Eco-Resort [Re: Marty]
Marty Offline

DiCaprio Expected in Belize to Discuss Development of Blackadore Caye

Movie star Leonardo DiCaprio and his investment team is expected to arrive in Belize in the next couple weeks to forward DiCaprio’s idea as it relates to Blackadore Caye which he owns. He plans to restore the island which is basically eroding. DiCaprio plans to build 68 guest villas that will have access to nearly a mile of secluded beach, grassland and jungle. Today we got an update on the project from the CEO in the Ministry of Trade and Investment, Michael Singh, spoke to Love News.

MICHAEL SINGH

“That’s moving forward; we actually have them coming in, in about a week for us to formalize an MOU under the broad strokes on the type of permits that we are going to be giving them to operate. There was an issue on the 66 foot reserve because the island is a very long, thin island and they were a bit concerned that enforcement of public use of the 66-foot reserve might actually reduce the amount of developable land that they have. So, we are trying to find a work around and so I think that is what we are going to straighten out over the next few weeks.”

Blackadore Caye is 104 acres.

LOVEFM


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#510400 - 01/05/16 08:16 PM Re: Leonardo DiCaprio Builds an Eco-Resort [Re: Marty]
Marty Offline

Blackadore Caye environmental report: Airport is out, eco-friendly construction is in

by Robert J Hawkins

Spoiler alert: The new Environmental Impact Report for the high-profile Leonardo DiCaprio resort on Blackadore Caye contains no smoking gun.

At least, none that I could find as I perused the 430-page report recently at the San Pedro Public Library.

A “public consultation” on the findings regarding the proposed high-end resort will be held Jan. 14 starting at 6:30 p.m. at the Lion’s Den on Front Street in San Pedro.

The report, meanwhile is available for reading at the town library, the Ho Chan Marine Reserve office, the Caye Caulker Village Council Office and at the Leo Bradly Library and the Turton Library Center in Belize City. The Department of Environment has a copy in Belmopan. You can also view it online at http://doe.gov.bz/index.php/eias

An EIR for a Blackadore Caye resort project was previously published and approved in 2006.

But faced with a growing public movement to turn the entire caye into a preserve, the developers “decided to create a development that would suit its surroundings.” In other words, design a dazzling resort that would also preserve and protect and even enhance the island’s fragile eco-system.

Sort of reaching for a win-win.

So what’s new? What’s different?

Quite a bit.

For one, the density of development on the actual island has been drastically reduced. In fact the ratio of development to conservation space has been reversed. In this current configuration, only 40 percent of Blackadore’s nearly 107 acres will be developed and 60 percent is designated as conservation land.

How is this achieved? Two big decisions were made.

First, the airstrip — with its problematic private plane carbon footprint — has been ditched. In its place will be a helipad. (Private jets and planes will presumably be parked at the international airport in Belize and, some day, at the international airport proposed for northern Ambergris Caye.) Most arrivals will be by boat.

Second, in order to reduce the density of construction on land, a sizable chunk of the resort development — called Blackadore Village –has been moved out over the water on a curved pier, called an outrigger. It is located on the west side of the island and will support a three-story welcome center, hotel suites and some shops and restaurants and docking for about six vessels, water taxis and private boats.

The outrigger pier’s buildings will be a seamless continuation of the on-land resort center, with its dramatic focal point: the Blackadore Village courtyard plaza that also doubles as the cap on an enormous rainwater cistern. Around the plaza will be more restaurants and shops, a market, a spa and fitness center, a conference center, a saltwater swimming pool, staff offices and employee dorms, recreation fields, an small island farm, maintenance facilities and centralized energy and water facilities.

A service dock will be located at the northern-most tip of the island for the arrival of staff and supplies and removal of waste.

At the southernmost tip of the island, an exclusive clubhouse for estate owners and other residents will be built, substantially over the water. The clubhouse pier provides docking for a handful of boats no more than 20 feet long.

The placement of the various piers, especially the outrigger, is in the deepest waters around the island in order to minimize dredging

The resort plans include 20 two-bedroom beach bungalows, 4 three-bedroom deluxe villas, 18 one-bedroom suites and 8 two-bedroom “lock-off” suites. The hotel suites will be located on the outrigger pier. The beach bungalows will be located along the eastern shore.

There will be lots available of varying size for up to 34 estate homes, located on both sides of the 600-foot-wide island, south of the village.

The development’s tagline — “A restorative island project” — has raised eyebrows. How do you build a high-end resort on an uninhabited island while simultaneously claiming to rescue the island from its own self-destruction?

The EIR goes to great pains, with unabashed ambition, to explain how.

The caye “presents an unparalleled opportunity . . . to create a truly restorative island concept with the deepest levels of sustainability for the resort development, helping to set new standards for Belize and the world. This development will be a demonstration of the powerful collaboration of human development and a truly regenerative natural environment.”

The developers vow to “exceed current environmental standards for resort development in Belize.” And they don’t stop there. Blackadore Caye intends to be “the world’s greenest resort development and become a new national icon for the country of Belize.”

Whew.

It helps that the lead designer for this project is Jason F. McLennan who co-wrote the “Living Building Challenge” standards created by the International Living Future Institute, which takes eco-sensitive development steps beyond the current engineering high standard, the LEED Platinum Certification.

The EIR outlines an extensive list of strategies designed to minimize the inevitable impact of development on the island.

For one, all pedestrian and cart traffic will be limited to a single elevated boardwalk that will traverse the 2.2-mile length of the island. There will be no motorized vehicles on the island and all motorized boats will have limited access to the island. Recreational boating will be limited to non-motorized, shallow-draft craft.

Power generation will come from solar photovoltaic cells with backup generators. As is done all over Belize, rainwater will be collected from buildings and stored in cisterns. The developers are also considering the use of solar water stills to supplement the potable water supply.


That’s Blackadore Caye, to the left on the map. Belize City is about 45 minutes away by water taxi. But surely, many clients owuld simply fly directly to the island on their private planes that would likely come over on the water taxi with ordinary people.

Wastewater will be fully treated and reused for plant irrigation, creating a “net-zero water standard for the entire island.” Likewise, a “zero waste” strategy will reuse and recycle all organic waste with a goal of capturing a minimum of 80 percent of all waste. Any balance will be shipped to the centralized waste management facility on the mainland.

As stated earlier, piers have been designated for the deepest waters in order to minimize dredging, resulting in “significantly less” dredging than proposed in the 2006 proposal. The water under the piers could be developed with an artificial reef to encourage fish populations and propagation.

The resort will be limited to a maximum 534 guests, 1,068 employees and 100 transient visitors at any one time.

And what about the 60 percent of the island that does not fall under the resort footprint?

The conservation area extends across the entire island and mostly on the western shoreline. What is not developed will be aggressively conserved, according to the report.

Much of the conservation area will be in the northern tip of the island, referred to as the Beach Ridge Forest, which is characterized by coconut and sea grape trees, saltwater palmetto, Black Poison Wood,white mangroves and Buttonwood trees.

The southern end of the island is marked by grasslands, “thick and nearly impenetrable.” The soil there is of low nutritional value peat and limestone with poor drainage.

In between is a collection of coconut palms (possibly an attempt at cultivation at one time) and Saltwater Palmetto that transitions into a semi-deciduous broadleaf forest along the windward coast of Bay Cedar, Ink plants, wild cherry, Black Poison Wood and more palmettos and coconuts.

Beyond two abandoned house foundations ans a cistern, there is no evidence of colonization of the island in the past — beyond the occasional use as a stopover by fishermen.

To stem the invasion of saltwater on the essentially flat regions and to slow erosion, as many as 5,000 mangrove plants will be introduced initially. Another 20,000 mangroves will be planted as the island develops.

The design anticipates no seawalls or bulkheads.

And what about wildlife?

The island is a popular stop over for migratory birds and many native species including the Black Catbird, Gran Catbird, Hooded oriels, Mangrove warblers, ospreys, brown pelicans and spotted sandpipers. The Black Catbird is considered endangered but is found in abundance on the island.

Mammals are pretty much relegated to mice and bats although possible raccoon tracks have been spotted. Amphibians, according to the report consist of the usual green tree snakes, black striped snakes, boas and of course black iguanas. Quite common and a “nuisance” are the plentiful populations of mosquitoes, sand flies, short jackets and Doctor flies.


An aerial view of Blackadore Caye where Leonardo DiCaprio and investors hope to build the greenest eco-resort in all of Belize, while saving the rest of the island from self-destruction.

Not observed were crocodiles nor, off shore, manatees — although their potential presence is not discounted given the nature of the region.

Development of the Blackadore Caye resort is expected to begin once the necessary legal and planning requirements are met and is expected to take three to five years for completion. From 175 to 250 people will be employed during the construction phase.

Phase 1 is slated to begin February 2016 and consists of temporary docking, infrastructure in the south end. By April 2016, a prototype estate house will be under construction and in June construction of the Clubhouse commences along with a temporary access road for construction.

Phase 2 should see the beginning of North End infrastructure in October 2016 and in January 2017 construction will begin on the outrigger pier, hotel suites and beachside bungalows.

Phase 3 targets the start of the village center in June 2017 and general restoration of the rest of the island.

The January 14 meeting is for the public to ask questions and make comments. Comment books are also available where hard copies of the Environmental Impact Report are located.

Bound for Belize blog


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#510702 - 01/15/16 06:58 PM Re: Leonardo DiCaprio Builds an Eco-Resort [Re: Marty]
Marty Offline

Adamant Concerns Voiced at Last Nights’ EIA Consultation Over Blackadore Caye Development
Last night. 6:30pm sharp. The Lions’ Den in San Pedro. The legally necessary EIA Consultation over the development of Blackadore Caye (or “Leonardo DiCaprio’s Island”) took place with the public. Free food, beers (risky!) and sodas were served and then by about 7pm, the room was packed. The 430 plus page EIA document – required by Belize law to assess and outline all environmental, social and economic impacts (both negative and positive) – was being summarized for the public and then open to questioning. The press was there, many from the development team were there – including a biologist and a marine biologist, real estate agents and plenty of representation from the Hol Chan Marine Reserve, Green Reef, Ambergris Citizens for Sustainable Development, the San Pedro Tour Guide Association, our town Mayor, Assistant Mayor and the Honorable Manuel Heredia, members of the town council, the national BTIA and the citizens of San Pedro.


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#510713 - 01/15/16 09:16 PM Re: Leonardo DiCaprio Builds an Eco-Resort [Re: Marty]
elbert Offline
These public consultations are meaningless. It's mandatory the developers have one, they had it and checked it of the list of requirements for the permit. What is said at the meeting ya or nay isn't in the equation.
The island is centered in a conservation area Zone E that borders the current boundaries of Hol Chan to the south and then runs along the leeward coastland of Ambergris Caye up to Bacalar Chico Marine Reserve. To the west and north, it runs up to the mainland near the Bomba Village Lagoon entrance then northwards to the Corozal Bay Wildlife Sanctuary and the structures are proposed atop the bonefishing flats that are part of this newly declared conservation area of Hol Chan Marine Reserve.
This may seem familiar to everyone as it was celebrated just last February as a great accomplishment of current government in its declaration of a reserve. http://www.sanpedrosun.com/environment/2...serve-official/
What happens next is The Department of Natural Resources leasing the sea bed to private enterprise for a buck and all the talk about preserving Belize for future Belizeans is just political fodder.
_________________________
The Dive Shops Daily Blog
http://scubalessonsbelize.blogspot.com/

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#510725 - 01/16/16 11:11 AM Re: Leonardo DiCaprio Builds an Eco-Resort [Re: Marty]
Marty Offline


Concerns raised over EIA plans for DiCaprio’s Blackadore Caye, Belize

According to the EIA report, Blackadore Caye’s island ecology has experienced continual use and significant decay from its former pristine state. The island is threatened by climate change, rising sea levels, ocean acidification, and pressures on habitats and by years of deforestation and salt water intrusion. Without a positive development that is ecologically sensitive the island will further degrade and thus the current developer is excited about helping to fully restore and improve Blackadore Caye. In this current state, the caye presents an unparalleled opportunity for the development team to create a truly restorative island concept with the deepest level of sustainability for the resort development, helping to set new standards for Belize and the world. This development will be a demonstration of the powerful collaboration of human development and a truly regenerative natural environment.

The development will be completed in three stages, starting as soon as the EIA consultation process is complete. Developers hope to open the resort by 2018, but at this stage, the EIA is yet to be approved by the Government of Belize. If approved, an estimated 250 person will be employed during the construction phase providing employment to local residents. The EIA indicated that the first phase of development “includes construction of a temporary docking facility for construction access in the central utility zone, the infrastructure at the South End of the island, construction of prototype Estate Homes and construction of the Clubhouse and a temporary road for construction.” Phase two is to consist of “the infrastructure at the North End, construction of the Outrigger, construction of the Hotel Suites/Beachside Bungalows.” And phase three includes the “construction of the Village Center, as well as final restoration of any disturbed areas.” The EIA also indicated that no sea walls or bulkheads are anticipated to be needed for the development of the island, as the primary protection of the shoreline is the development of new mangrove encasements.


At first glance the EIA seems to portray a proper balance between conservation and development, but concerns arose as the island sits within the newly expanded Hol Chan Marine Reserve. However, when speaking with the Manager at the Hol Chan Marine Reserve, Miguel Alamilla, he stated otherwise. “Blackadore Caye is a privately owned island, so it is automatically excluded from the marine reserve. Even if it was a protected area, it’s not that they can do what they want to do, but they need to go through the environmental impact assessment which would reveal if the project should be carried on or not,” said Alamilla who believes that the development could be environmentally feasible. “The project could be sustainable as long as main components are met, and we are talking about ecological balance and social equilibrium. And, as the project is proposed to be using green energy and other environmental aspects we can say is sustainable,” explained Alamilla.

After the EIA presentation, the standing-room-only audience of over 100 people had the opportunity to ask questions. Stakeholders expressed many concerns, one being access to Queens land and the use of it for development. According to law, the first 66ft of land along all waterways is not private property, but public land. According to the EIA there are plans to request an exception to this law from the government of Belize, stating concerns for the safety standards of their guests. Many others voiced the concern of how legal it is to have over the water structures on land that in essence does not belong to them. Developers responded that if they cannot move forward with their over the water feature, the entire project is not financially feasible.

Many local fishing guides were in attendance; several voicing their concerns regarding the developments impact on the popular fishing area, how it would affect the fish populations and if they would still have access to the flats where they take customers to catch-and-release sport fish such as bonefish, tarpon and permit.

Other questions concerning environmentally responsible ways of eradicating insects on the island, removing “problematic” crabs, where their landfill comes from and preservation of possible Maya artifacts on the caye were posed.

At the end of the meeting the general consensus seemed to be the opposition to the over the water structure. “We don’t care what you do on the island, just keep the building out of the water,” commented President of the Ambergris Caye Tour Association Billy Leslie. Belize Tourism Association representative Mike Huesner commented, “Although this is an impressive project, the over the water structure is a concern. Is there a possibility of reconsideration?”

Click here to read the rest of the article and see more photos in the San Pedro Sun


Blackadore Caye Proposal Launches to Mixed Reviews

Blackadore Caye is an unpopulated one hundred and four-acre untouched island west of San Pedro Ambergris Caye. Located twenty minutes away by boat, the caye is in proximity to the Belize Barrier. The island is owned by actor Leonardo Di Carpio who is planning a massive mega eco-tourism development. On Thursday night, a first round of consultations was held in San Pedro, Ambergris Caye on the required Environmental Impact Assessment. There was a heavy presence by government officials to lend support, but there is also unease by residents. News Five’s Duane Moody as a report.  

Duane Moody, Reporting

Blackadore Caye was sold back in 2005 to world renowned actor and environmental activist, Leonardo DiCaprio. DiCaprio and his partner are planning to invest in a multimillion dollar eco-tourism project, including villas for guests that will be built atop a massive platform that stretches in an arc over the water, with artificial reefs and fish shelters underneath. But the island falls within an area that was recently placed under the protection of the Hol Chan Marine Reserve.  Fishermen believe their livelihood and habitat are under threat.

Resident

“By the general public that uses it for flying fishing and other resources. It’s been a long while for the Hol Chan Marine Reserve and is the habitat for many of the species that Belize has. Now we are seeing the development of big buildings going over the water. When investors buy property that is where they should build, in their property. Not over the water, taking away what belongs to all of the populace of Belize.”

Resident

“I didn’t come to argue with you all. I came to argue about the natural state of the habitat of the island where I fished all my life and the plan to resolve that putting those buildings in the water, in what was three areas to put in the reserve as part of Hol Chan. I have nothing against it, but we already stopped the first company that came three years ago with that sweet talk.”

Resident

“Sixty-six feet of all coastal waters are all considered Queen’s land because it belongs to the public. You may own land, but from high tide, sixty-six feet on to land is public access. And not only are you blocking that, but you are encroaching on the marine reserve and developing in that water.”

Tourism Minister Manuel Heredia contends that traditional areas will not be affected. He supports the mega tourism development project.

Manuel Heredia, Minister of Tourism

“The over the water structure, there’s legislation to that. But those are matters that we need to sit down with Billy, Miguel and the guys concerned and see how best we can address the situation. The usage do the area, I believe that it has to be spelt clearly well that the people will be able to use the traditional areas. But we have to be very clear, before this project was around, before it was declared a reserve and I was very critical…I asked over and over again if we declared this thing a reserve. It means to say that developers will not be able to develop or so because then if that is the case, I’d have a problem. I would never allow a reserve to be done and stopping developments to private investors…even dredging. He said, will dredging be done? Yes, if you ask a permit, dredging will be permitted and so.”

As area representative, Heredia believes that the proposal can create jobs.

Manuel Heredia

Manuel Heredia

“Let us be practical. There are hundreds of students that are graduating without a job. If we do not allow development to be done and to be done right, then we are we putting these people, where are these people going. My job as the area representative is to think for them to think for the students and to think for the entire residents of the island.”

According to reports, the eco-conscious resort named “Blackadore Caye, a Restorative Island” is scheduled to be officially opened to guests in 2018.  Duane Moody for News Five. 1

Channel 5



Proposed Blackadore Caye Island Restoration concept

Leonardo DiCaprio’s Blackadore Caye Does Not Sit Well with Fishermen in Belize

“We do not have a problem with you building on the island, it is yours,” commented Billy Leslie, President of the San Pedro Tour Guide Association and member of the Ambergris Caye Citizens for Sustainable Development. “Our concerns are those with problems arising from the over-the-water structures that are being proposed for development in pristine fishing areas surrounding Blackadore Caye.”

Billy reiterated the concerns of most of the fishermen and tour guides present at the meeting in that the proposed building over the water are going to be constructed on in an area that has just recently been designated a part of the Hol Chan Marine Reserve, something that he stressed took over three years to be established for protection. Other concerns of the fishermen and guides include the usage of the area for fishing once the resort is operational and the access to the beaches which are considered (Queen’s Land or public).

“A major component in adhering to the Living Building Challenge is to not build within 50 ft of wetlands yet this project is building over the water in Zone C of the newly expanded Hol Chan Marine Reserve,” commented island resident/tourism stakeholder Rebecca Arceo, also a member of Ambergris Caye Citizens for Sustainable Development. “To me it seems that the Living Building Challenge is nothing more than a marketing tool to be disregarded when it is not profitable for the developer.”

Leonardo DiCaprio’s developers assured that their intentions are to create better conditions for the fishermen so all of their concerns will be looked at, including those concerns of the environment. Their research shows that Blackadore Caye is eroding and deteriorating and that the development will only help to enhance its current state.

Click here to read the rest of the article and see more photos in the Ambergris Today


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