A Letter to the Editor and a Reply

To the Editor of the San Pedro Sun,
Walking north along the beach to Boca del Rio I saw a sign - SAVE OUR MANGROVES FOREVER. A fine sentiment (and put there by a local person I was told). What a pity it was nailed to the last remaining mangrove but one as I approached the new park.

The sign looked like it predated the park so I have to assume the construction workers passed it every day as they cut down the last mangrove stand this side of the river.

What did they think as the chain saws bit? Progress, a benefit to the community? And what did the Town Board think - if they thought at all? Well they've got plenty to think about now as the cost will far exceed the original budget.

I watched as two men shoveled sand onto a floating box in a feeble attempt to fill the ever-widening channel behind the sea wall. The morning tide was carrying sand away faster than they could ever hope to replace it. King Canute would understand!

I'm here researching an article on Marine Conservation on Ambergris Caye, as next year is International Year of the Reef if there is any left to protect.

Yours Sincerely,
/s/ Peter Eltringham
Visitor and co-author of The Rough Guide.

Editor's Note: Normally we do not comment on letters to the editor. Here is an exception.

We certainly hope Mr. Eltringham does some more research into the stands of mangroves on Ambergris Caye. The tiny mangrove stand he refers to is by no means the last this side of the river. If he were willing to listen and look, we could show him some major stands of mangrove that have been destroyed - but generally for good reasons. Not all trees on the planet can be saved, human needs also need to be considered. Mr. Eltringham's choice of Boca del Rio Park to make his point is unfortunate. For those who are familiar with the area, the park is a vast improvement. Mangroves are considered nurseries for sea life; the small number of mangroves removed at the park were nurseries for plastic bags at best. Mr. Eltringham would have done better to comment on the massive use of plastic bags and plates in an eco-touristic country.

Boca del Rio park now nurtures the human element; there are also new trees and landscaping. In this case, the children of the area are benefiting.

His comments about the Boca del Rio park are made from the perspective of a first worlder looking at the third world with little regard for the conditions and obstacles faced by the third world. Most first world bleeding heart liberals looking at a small piece of the puzzle become instant experts and start telling the aboriginal what they should do. A few weeks in Belize does not make you an expert, Mr. Eltringham. Unfortunately, we have no doubt that we will read all about it in Mr. Eltringham's future writings.

San Pedro Sun

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San Pedro Town, Ambergris Caye, Belize News