The Hol Chan Marine Reserve has played an important role in conservation and tourism in Ambergris Caye, since its establishment in 1987. The reserve seeks to accomplish sustainable use of our marine resources. By incorporating our three marine habitats (mangroves, sea grass beds, and coral reef) into a protected area, we ensure the protection of biodiversity in a small sample of our extensive barrier reef system.
The reserve operates under four main objectives, which are:
1. To maintain a sample coral reef in its natural stateThese four goals permit protection to the area while at the same time allowing proper use of this resource.
We are aware that tourism is the main industry in Ambergris Caye, which is dependent on the health of our coral reef. Scuba divers and snorkelers visiting Ambergris Caye come here to admire the splendor of this magnificent coral formation. However, coral reefs around the world are under stress due to careless human activities. This includes inadequate waste disposal , sedimentation and agriculture pollution, global warming, and increased human interaction with this marine habitat. These threats are of great concern to us if we are to maintain our reef's health. We have to be conscious of our actions and use this resource in a sustainable manner.
Presently, the Hol Chan Marine reserve is working to monitor recreational activities at the Hol Chan cut. This has become necessary due to increased visitation. Volunteers are carrying out a divers/snorkelers damage assessment with the assistance of our biologist. The results obtained from this assessment will provide us with recommendations that will help us make important management decisions. Along with this study we are also monitoring the health of the coral reef around the Hol Chan cut. Information obtained from these two studies will create a picture of the state of the area.
The Hol Chan Marine Reserve has recently acquired a house previously owned by the Caribena Cooperative. This new acquisition will provide us with office space and a site for a visitor's center. At present we are remodeling our visitor's center and expect to finish in July. A lot of work is being put into this project and it will be very informative and educational.
We expect the work we are doing will generate positive results and will help us to better manage our marine ecosystem. Any assistance from the community will be gratefully welcomed. We are all guardians of this natural heritage and as such we should take an active role in the protection of this massive yet delicate ecosystem.
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