There are major, active threats to Belize's Water Shed. Today stakeholders held a one-day workshop to identify those threats and, ultimately, to come up with a strategic plan to safeguard Belize's waters. The coordinators at the event explained to us why it's important to protect and manage this precious resource.
Nadia Bood, Belize World Wildlife Fund
"We feel that this initiative is very important because the water sheds in Belize are very important to society. We depend on it for our water, for depend on it for food from the fisheries sector; water to drink, water for agriculture manufacturing and so it's very important and
we are also seeing increase impact to the water shed, based on multiple land use practices, which is affecting the water sheds ability to effectively do the function that they are supposed to be doing. The ultimate deliverable from this workshop is a strategy, an action plan that we can then put in place to work on the ground to address some of the key challenges that we are facing."
Paul Flowers, Director of Policy - Ministry of Natural Resources
"Belize has specific strengths and specific weaknesses in the area of water. Our strength specifically is that per capita we have about 75 square meters per person and that puts us I believe way up in the region. I think the average in the region is about 19 and so that's about 19. We are like 3-4 times the regional average in fresh water availability per person and so this is tremendous strength that Belize have, but we have to keep it that way. Because we also have weakness which is that more than 60% of our perimeter is coastline, which is beautiful for tourism, but you have saline intrusion. Salt water intrusion is always at threat to get into aquatic system."
Belize has 16 major watersheds - 5 of which we share with Guatemala and other neighboring countries. A plan will be drafted after consultations.
Belize’s Barrier Reef In Danger
An online publication has stated that Belize’s Barrier Reef is in danger of being destroyed due to the extraction of resources. The article did not focus on only Belize’s Reef but rather on all World Heritage Sites which it says are being threatened through mining and oil exploration. It went on to state that, quote, “companies and investors face reputational and legal risks by backing such activities. As many as 70 out of the 229 natural World Heritage sites are at risk from extractive industries, the research from the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) and asset managers Aviva Investors and Investec showed on Thursday. That includes most of Africa’s 41 natural heritage sites, designated by UNESCO as areas that have outstanding natural beauty or have ecological significance.
The report aims to encourage investors to use their influence to stop companies from exploiting the sites.” End of quote. According to the Chief Executive of the WWF, protecting these iconic places is not only important in terms of their environmental worth, it is crucial for the livelihoods and future of the people who depend on them.
Areas listed as under threat from resource extraction activities include Spain’s Donana (Donyana) National Park, the Selous Game Reserve in Africa and the Belize Barrier Reef Reserve System in North America. The Donana National Park was already affected by a toxic waste spill in 1998, when acid waste was released into the Guadiamar River after a dam failed. A dead fish lied by the Guadiamar river after a huge toxic waste spill in 1998, in southern Spain, seeped into ground water under Donana Park, one of Europe’s wildlife reserves. The Selous Game Reserve was added to the World Heritage Danger List in 2014 in part due to concerns regarding extractive activities within the reserve, the WWF report says. The reserve is home to some of Africa’s best known animals, and is already affected by poaching.
The WWF said its estimate of the sites at risk was probably conservative. There are 1,031 World Heritage sites across 163 states, most of them selected for cultural significance.