U.N says Belize on the brink of losing its reef-World Heritage site endangered
Friday, 29 June 2007
By Joseph Stamp Romero - Staff Reporter
Regional Rep. World Wildlife Fund, Sylvia Marin.
Exec. Director CARICOM Climate Change Centre, Kenrick Leslie.
A United Nations report has shown Belize is one of the Caribbean nations, most likely to suffer should there continue to be major shifts in the climate.
It’s not an issue to be taken lightly says the National Meteorological Department.
On Tuesday the World Wildlife Foundation launched its Climate Change Public Awareness Campaign at the Coastal Zone Management Authority and Institute on Princess Margaret Drive in Belize City.
The campaign seeks to sensitise the public on the importance of environmental protection and the need for everyone to take stewardship so generations will be able to enjoy the environment.
Several speakers presented research-based information as to what would become of Belize should it be affected by the inevitable change in weather conditions and what measures can be taken to lessen the effect.
One of those presenters was Meteorologist, Ramon Frutos from the National Meteorolgy Department.
“A global climate change will have a significant adverse impact on biodiversity as well as human livelihood and that is to start with.” Frutos said there are already signs in the air to confirm what the computers have projected and the warm nights is only one of those signs.
“No doubt we can all feel the nights getting hotter and it will get worse, with the dry season occurring longer.” The dry seasons alone have other impli-cations said Kenrick Leslie, Ph.D., who sits as the Executive Director, of the CARICOM Climatic Change Centre.
“The dry season will mean more sunlight and that will mean warmer waters, which means we will have high tides, leading to flooding after little rainfall.”
He also supported Frutos’ take on biodiversity being affected and added that Belize is not an isolated case.
“The weather affects the entire Caribbean and the species that live in this area, will either move away or die.”
Perhaps if the imagery of fish and other animals dying by the thousands is not scary enough, Leslie said we may want to consider how that will affect our diet.
The ‘inconvenient truth’ is that with an already unexplained scarcity of some fruits and vegetables at peak season in Belize, our food security will certainly be threatened.
Leslie warned that under the circumstance countries must also begin to consider how a rapid climatic change may affect its socio economic stability, especially those Caribbean countries that rely on tourism. “No tourist will come to a place where the weather patterns are always changing it’s too risky.”
However, with all the negative effects promised by global warming or if you prefer, changing climatic condition, Sylvia Marin, Regional Representative for the World Wildlife Fund (W.W.F.) still sees a glimmer of hope.
It’s simply up to us.
“We need to take an active role in what happens to our habitat and it will be around longer,” she warns.
Marin said that saving the environment should be something we do collectively, but people try to take the cause on alone.
“We need to let governments know, through petitions and recommendations that we will not allow reckless development to destroy what nature has built.”
In her presentation she pointed out that Belize is already on the brink of loosing one its precious heritage, the Barrier Reef, which has been placed on the endangered list and the country has also been cited by the United Nations as being vulnerable due to climate change.
“We are not sure whether the reef has been affected by the climate change or by recklessness, but we do know that in order to save it we must make people aware of how they can contribute to its preservation and the country as a whole.”
The W.W.F. is working with other organisations to develop a standardised methodology for conducting economic valuation of coral reefs and mangrove goods and services based on tourism fisheries and shoreline protection for Belize.
The information gathered through this project will be used to create policy recommendations on how to mitigate threats to coral reefs and mangrove areas.