On Tuesday, the Society for the Promotion of Eco Cultural Tourism and the Environment (SPECTE) hosted 50 youths from the six districts to participate in a National Youth Environmental Summit. The summit was a three day workshop that ran from April 10th to 12th and was held at the SPECTE’s Green Iguana Park at the Branch Mouth in the Cayo District.
Youths from San Pedro Town that took part in this important event were Michael Del Valle, Gabriela Guerrero, Marlon Andrews and Humberto Torres. The San Pedro Town Council was generous to sponsor the kids for an exciting learning experience. Several topics were on the agenda up discussion, which included; sustainable rural or city development in Belize via Eco Cultural Tourism, project proposal writing, local and international funding agencies, the role of NGO’s and CBO’s in National Development, business opportunities for youths of Belize and several more.
The cost per participant was $200 which included the room, meals, river and archeology tours, seminar, cultural entertainment, and field study. SPECTE is conducting a series of environmental educational workshop in schools, for farmers, stakeholders, youth groups, and others. The expected long term result is to convert the area into a protected zone, replant the depleted area with trees, re-introduce more than two hundred newly born iguanas, while caring for the fishes, birds, through the creation of the first river patrol.
The Society for the Promotion of Eco Cultural Tourism and the Environment is a community based organization, non-governmental and non-profitable. The short and medium goals of the Society is to protect the endangered Green Iguanas and their natural habitat, along a five miles stretch of the Macal, Mopan and Belize Old Rivers .The long term objectives of the Society are to better the quality and standard of living of its members through community participation in the eco cultural tourism business in the area. If eco cultural tourism is to become a model for sustainable rural development in the area, the care for the flora and the fauna is vital .Then the need for environmental education and community training will be necessary. Today, SPECTE is a legal entity made up of members from the various communities of the Cayo District. Presently, their membership surpasses the hundreds, and is growing day to day. Leo Antonio Obando is the project coordinator who possesses a master’s degree in International Studies from the University of Chile, South America. Because income generation from tourism related activities in the area is so high, community interest and participation in finding an immediate solution to the problem is also on the rise .They have initiated a conservation project in the area , and we have environmental messages on the radio and T.V. on a daily basis.
On the second and third day, time was allotted for presentations and reviews of business proposals by the district groups, with the hope that these youths would return to their respective towns with a concrete business plan to implement. SPECTE promises that they will keep in touch with these youths and will assist them in any way possible.