"La Isla Bonita" undergoing Environmental Restoration

The Island Newspaper, Ambergris Caye, Belize            Vol. 11, No. 29            July 26, 2001

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If you have taken a stroll on the beach lately you have definitely noticed the new trees planted on the shoreline. Another visible island improvement is the clean-up of the San Pedrito Area. Many might be asking themselves who is doing this and why. Well underway, these are the positive effects of the Environmental Restoration Project, a one million dollar contract funded by the Inter-American Development Bank for the re-beautification and re-vegetation of San Pedro due to the ravages of Hurricane Keith. The contract, signed on June 11th, 2001, slated an estimated $650,000 for San Pedro while the remainder was allotted to Caye Caulker. The consultants for this project are WSP International who chose the local firm of Rojas, Schulz & Nelder as service providers for this project.

    What is the Environmental Restoration Project? It is a project with four focal points: a trash clean-up of the lagoon and San Pedrito areas; public park landscaping; replanting of vegetation on the beaches and shoreline; and the creating of a resource management center. The San Pedro Sun met with Vicky Nelder of Rojas, Schulz & Nelder who explained the project involves a group of 25 workers including engineers, landscaping architects and other hardworking individuals.

     Ms. Nelder explained that the trash clean-up includes the clearing of dead stumps and cutting of dead mangroves to allow new ones to grow quicker. All waste products along the roads will be disposed of and toxic material, including plastics have been cleared from the mangroves on the lagoon side and San Pedrito areas. Unfortunately two to three days after the clean-up, Ms. Nelder explained that these places had been trashed again. She stated that for this campaign to be successful, all the people of the island have to do their part and put litter in its proper place. In hopes of discouraging people to litter, "no littering" signs will be placed in these areas.

    The project also intends to rehabilitate the land by replanting more trees on the island. A total of 6000 trees will be replanted in public areas, the beach and shoreline. Some of these will include coconut, almond, flamboyant and ciricote. Special plants and shrubs such as morning glories and coco plum will be placed on the shoreline to prevent erosion and serve as wind barriers. Plants will also be placed on the street sides wherever possible to produce shade and beauty. Already 600 plants have been placed in different areas of the island but once again the public is asked to cooperate. Of the 600 plants, 40 have been destroyed and/or stolen. The general public is informed that the police have been advised of this situation and anyone found tampering with the plants will be prosecuted.

    The public park landscaping project will concentrate on the Boca del Rio Park. Amenities such as barbecues and picnic tables will be added for families to enjoy. The small park at San Pablo will also be restored. A drinking fountain will be built at Central Park, as well as landscaping of the area. All other parks on the island will also be restored and/or improved.

    The resource management center that is being created will be used to recycle materials from the clean-up campaign to create compost. Ms. Nelder explained that a wood chipper is being acquired so the trees and other trash can be recycled to create a compost that, after four to five months, will become black soil to be used in the planting process. A greenhouse will also be created for new plants to be used in the replanting program. The resource management center will also house an educational area for children to learn about the importance of recycling. This will be located on a lot in the San Marcos Area, which the Town Council has provided. Once this center is established it is hoped that the town will continue this important system. "Do not give a person a fish, teach them how to fish," stated Mrs. Nelder.

    The resource management center's purpose is to educate the community on the benefits of being environmentally responsible and caring. All that is being asked of the community is they be open-minded to this information that will bring about effective change to the island. The Environmental Restoration Project invites everyone to become involved in their activities, to cooperate with the rehabilitation and recycling program. Through this program Mrs. Nelder and her team would like everyone to enjoy the benefits of a cleaner, healthier and more beautiful San Pedro and asks the general public to join them in their efforts. Let us all make it a point to do our part in helping keeping  our "Isla Bonita" clean.

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