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.

Cruise Ships Bring a Fleet of Problems for Belize

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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.

Juvenile Solitary Eagle shot at Alta Vista

The Belize Raptor Research Institute (BRRI) has just published an investigation report into the shooting of a juvenile Solitary Eagle in the vicinity of Alta Vista, Stann Creek District.

Roni Martinez along with Andy and Joanna Bradshaw, volunteers with BRRI headed to Alta Vista on Boxing Day to gather vital information and to speak to local farmers to try and avoid any further incidents in the future. Continue reading

Coppola Resorts Verified by Rainforest Alliance

Francis Ford Coppola Resorts properties Blancaneaux Lodge and Turtle Inn have had their sustainable tourism practices and operations Verified as “best management practices” by Rainforest Alliance.

Both properties reached the coveted Level 3 with more than 75% compliance with criteria.

Continue reading