Leonardo DiCaprio to build at Blackadore Caye

DiCaprio Belize

Well it’s finally happened. Leonardo DiCaprio and fellow developer wellness architecture and design company Delos have released a PR statement about their intentions for Blackadore Caye. The statement from Travel Weekly declares that the resort will be the ‘greenest island resort ever built’ and that it will be “triple net zero”, meaning it will be designed to produce as much energy and water as it uses while eliminating waste”. How it ‘eliminates’ the waste (grey water, black water, solid, recyclable and organic) will be quite a trick but maybe they have a few new technologies that can be adopted by other island resorts in Belize.

The New York Times; Telegraph; Daily Mail and Mirror newspapers were just some of the few I saw carrying this story over the weekend. Comments in the San Pedro Scoop focused on how the PR company stated they were going to ‘heal’ Blackadore Caye and improve the ecosystem. As you can imagine the response from local residents on social media has been one of amusement, bemusement and often outright hostility.

They’re certainly bold and very ambitious claims for a partnership working on its first island development project in a destination that has heard it all before but rarely seen the promised results. Having said that I would expect that DiCaprio and Delos will engage some of the world’s most talented architects to design, build and later manage the footprint of the resort in how they perceive a green and environmentally friendly way should be.

On the plus side when celebrities such as DiCaprio lend their global brands to countries like Belize it certainly adds some glamour and sex appeal. At a time when the tourism industry to Belize is caught in a downward spiral of cruise ship’s ranging ever further south, a growing pressure to sanction large scale coastal and island developments and a brand that is now settling for mid-market mediocrity Belize’s tourism industry could certainly do with some A list support.

However, ill worded PR releases coupled to a lack of up-front clarity and transparency and the staggering investment and condo sales figures mooted in the articles will only set the alarm bells ringing on Ambergris Caye and beyond. Lets give Leonardo a chance to put his case forward and allow the public to see the results of a thorough EIA before we judge him, Delos and ‘the greenest island resort ever built’ too harshly.

Good luck Roni Martinez

Roni Martinez on educational outreach

Last night via Facebook I heard that my good friend Roni Martinez has left his job at Blancaneaux Lodge and is heading into the wider world of conservation. Although Roni has not shared the news of exactly what he’ll be doing it will involve a subject close to his heart, the protection of endangered species and the protected areas they live in.

Good luck Roni Martinez you’ve a built a loyal team of followers who wish you well.

Cruise Ships Bring a Fleet of Problems for Belize

cropped-gmsnorkelling.jpg

ELaw Advocate, a non-profit alliance focused on environmental law issues worldwide recently visited Belize to help local communities and partner NGOs assess the EIAs of two proposed cruise ship terminals. Their newsletter (link to PDF below) provides a summary of their views on Belize’s proposed expansion in the cruise ship tourism sector. The report states that the new cruise ship operations if given the goal ahead would more than double the number of Belize’s cruise ship arrivals and cause significant impact to the Mesoamerican Reef, Swallow Caye Wildlife Sanctuary (the Stake Bank development) and Placencia (the Harvest Caye project).

You can read more information on the proposed developments via the ELaw Advocate newsletter or simply visit the ELaw web site at www.elaw.org 

Rafael Manzanero OBE – a shining example for Belize

Rafael Manzanero and Neil Rogers with Alexandra Cousteau on the Raspaculo River, Belize.

Rafael Manzanero and Neil Rogers on the Raspaculo River, Belize.

I read with great pride that my friend Rafael Manzanero, Executive Director of Friends for Conservation and Development (FCD) was awarded a OBE (Order of the British Empire) in the New Year’s Honour’s List for his contribution to Environmental Protection.

Rafael has worked tirelessly over many years to protect and conserve Belize’s (and the region’s) cultural and natural heritage. FCD is a shining beacon of what can be achieved with unlimited dedication despite limited resources.

I hope this honour will highlight Rafael’s outstanding leadership and act as a catalyst for more interest and resources being brought to bear to protect Belize’s Chiquibul Forest and the Maya Mountain Massif.

After a year of change for myself one of my New Year’s resolutions is to once again engage in the effort to protect and conserve Belize’s wild places, the creatures that live in them and to support the communities that lie at the edge of protected areas.

Belize’s off-shore oil drilling contracts cancelled

Loggerhead turtle

Off-shore oil drilling and extraction has, at least for the time being been halted thanks to a court ruling terminating 6 drilling contacts issued by the Musa administration between 2005 and 2007.

The court action taken by Oceana will be welcomed by the majority of Belizean citizens who voted overwhelmingly against off-shore oil drilling in the 2012 ‘peoples referendum’ organized by Oceana.

Although the contracts are now ‘null and void’ the GOB may yet appeal the court decision.

Click here to read more on Audrey Matura-Shepherd the VP, Oceana Belize comments made to 7 News, Belize this week post court ruling.

It’s Scarlet Macaw nesting season again in Belize

After a long gap in posts I’m now hoping to get back on track, refocus and breathe new life into Nurture Belize.

I resigned my position with Coppola Resorts just before Christmas so I’ve been focusing on how to move forward with life, and work. After 25+ years working with tourism to Belize and about 20 years being associated with Coppola Resorts I’m not about to now abandon Belize even though getting back may now be much less frequent than I’d like.

© Charles Britt

Capturing adult Scarlet Macaws to fit satellite telemetry devices to gather much needed data on a little known natural history © Charles Britt

We’re now back into the nesting season for Scarlet Macaws and it’s time to be vigilant. I’m closely following the activities of Roni Martinez, Charles Britt and their “Scarlet Six” team via FaceBook. Let’s hope the “Scarlet Six” along with, local volunteers and  FCDs rangers can keep the macaws and their chicks safe from persistent poachers.

Continue reading

EcoBelize features in Fathom article by Kate Donnelly

Kate Donnelly snorkelling with Spotted Eagle Ray, Silk Cayes, Belize

Kate Donnelly snorkelling with Spotted Eagle Ray and Hawksbill Turtle, Silk Cayes, Belize

Kate Donnelly recently visited Belize on a media FAM trip and her articles are currently being posted on Fathom.

In her most recent post Eco Belize: Mayans, Jaguars, and Macaws Kate writes about the stunning natural & cultural wonders and those who are trying to make a difference.

Kate mentioned Nurture Belize in her article – many thanks Kate.

Read the article on Fathom