ACCSD meets with Ministry of Natural Resources

The Island Newspaper, Ambergris Caye, Belize            Vol. 19, No. 16            April 23, 2009

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ACCSD members meet with Minister of Natural Resources Gaspar Vega and Lands Commissioner, Manuel Rodriguez and other members of the Ministry.

The Ambergris Caye Citizens for Sustainable Development (ACCSD) was formed by residents from varied backgrounds and professions who saw an urgent need for planned sustainable use and management of our coastal and marine resources. Their mission is to support and promote sustainable development on Ambergris Caye and its surrounding areas through education, awareness and citizen involvement. ACCSD ensures that sustainable development meets the needs of the present while protecting and enhancing natural resources without compromising the livelihood of this and future generations.

    Having a strong voice within the community, the ACCSD holds regular Wednesday meetings at the San Pedro Lions Den and members openly discuss their concerns and offer suggestions. However, on Friday, April 17th a closed door meeting was held with key members of ACCSD. The meeting was highly important as present were Honorable Gaspar Vega Deputy Prime Minister of Belize and Minister of Natural Resources, Honorable Manuel Heredia Minister of Tourism, Civil Aviation and Culture, Mayor Elsa Paz, Deputy Mayor Romel Gomez, Heads of Department from Environment, Forestry, Geology, Lands, as well as the Land’s Chief Executive Officer.

    Prior to the meeting, during Friday morning and afternoon, the officials were taken on a guided tour of the proposed South Beach Development site located south of San Pedro Town. Officials received information on the importance and sensitive nature of the area. The fish and wildlife which the developer claims does not exist, according to an ACCSD press release, were also highlighted. The next stop was the Hol Chan Marine Reserve where emphasis was given on its proximity to the South Beach development.

    At the meeting, a presentation was given which showed the disastrous effects that South Beach would have on Ambergris Caye and the island’s tourism industry. However, during the meeting other imperative issues were discussed, these issues showed the current detrimental practices affecting the natural resources on the island.

    Comments and letters from hundreds of concerned citizens, visitors and investors were passed around and each official had an opportunity to read them.

    Chairman Elito Arceo commented to The San Pedro Sun that other details of the meeting were confidential, however, the press release stated that ACCSD believed that the meeting was very positive with both Minister Heredia and Mayor Paz re-emphasizing their continued opposition to the South Beach development. Minister Vega and his departments went away with a better understanding of why the South Beach development is unsustainable and unsuitable for Ambergris Caye.

    Honorable Gaspar Vega commented during an interview with The Sun that indeed it was a very productive meeting where many concerns were voiced. “It definitely made me more concerned of what is going on in San Pedro. It gave me an insight into how careful we have to be so that a balance can be found between development and the environment. However, we cannot be blindfolded to the fact that development needs to continue. We just have to be more careful and conduct more studies to charter the best way to move forward. I applaud the passion and care for the country that the Ambergris Caye Citizens for Sustainable Development possess and wish more would portray those qualities.”

    According to Arceo, in the very near future, Honorable Vega will return and an open meeting will be held with members of ACCSD and the general public.
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