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The island of Ambergris Caye is considered the fastest-growing municipality in Belize, with tourism and real estate projects continuously on the rise. While this may benefit the local economy via jobs and foreign exchange, it often involves clearing vegetation for coastal development projects. Mangroves are cleared in some parts of the island at an alarming rate, with little consideration for environmental impact. In an attempt to raise awareness about these plants, Aces Wildlife Rescue and ECI Development have joined forces in a mangrove rehabilitation program that has led to planting mangrove propagules (seeds) along specific areas of the beach.

According to Aces, their approach is an environmentally sustainable option, and planting mangroves along this stretch of beach is a test to see if the land can be reclaimed. The seeds are safeguarded in a casing made out of bamboo. Aces and ECI are hopeful that the project could work, and send a message to government authorities about supporting this type of environmental program. The government has the power to authorize the clearing of mangroves in the name of development, and at the same time, they issue permits for the building of seawalls along the beach. that if more seawalls are allowed, beaches and other stretches along the coast could disappear. For residents living near these structures, it could become a severe problem, and to save their properties from the inevitable erosion, they could force to spend a hefty amount of dollars. Aces believe that instead of building seawalls, developers should be encouraged to leave or plant mangrove instead. Mangroves are essential for the environment. These coastal trees provide crucial habitats for thousands of marine species, which eventually migrate to the barrier reef. Mangroves also stabilize shorelines, filter toxins, prevent erosion and protect the land and people from storm surges.

Click here to read the rest of the article in the San Pedro Sun