Belize Private Island Resort Community Involvement
We see the preservation and sustainable use of Belize’s marine environment as central to Hatchet Caye’s ability to provide visitors an opportunity to see much of what Belize has to offer. Therefore, we are proud partners with Fragments of Hope (FoH), a Belize and U.S. not-for-profit organization that has two primary goals:
- Restoration of the Belize reef with genetically robust, diverse and resilient corals.
- Building capacity, education and knowledge sharing for local communities.
Coral reef health is rapidly declining in many places globally including Belize. Pollution, over-fishing, sedimentation and other local human impacts contribute to this trend, but global warming is the most serious long-term threat to corals. Elevated sea temperatures have caused wide spread bleaching and disease outbreaks contributing to massive mortality. In 2008 the Caribbean acroporids (Elkhorn and Staghorn) were the first corals to be listed on the IUCN Red List; their status is Critically Endangered, one step away from extinct in the wild. These corals formally were the most common in the Caribbean but their abundance has declined by >98% in the last 30 years.
Our partnership (along with others such as the World Bank, the Caribbean Community Climate Change Centre, World Wildlife Fund and the Smithsonian Institute) with Fragments of Hope is helping to provide the resources needed to counter this decline. Reef restoration projects in Belize have involved affixing loose fragments of coral back to the reef with either cement and/or cable ties after storms or ship groundings that have broken up corals. Since 2009 researchers have taken this one step further by establishing multiple (23) coral nurseries in Belize. The focus is on the Acroporidae because of their endangered status and rapid growth rates: they can produce >300% of their original mass in just a year using three different artificial substrates: ropes, metal frames and cement discs on tables. While similar restoration efforts are occurring in places like Honduras, Jamaica, Puerto Rico, the Florida Keys and the Dominica Republic with the aim of re-seeding reefs, only in Belize has the primary focus been on climate change adaptation by identifying corals with the most resistance to bleaching and disease and replenishing shallow reef sites to improve shoreline protection. Both the coral host (animal) and their tiny symbiotic algae clades that live within the coral tissues have been genetically characterized in an effort to understand why some corals are more resistant and/or resilient to bleaching and disease. More details about FoH’s efforts in Belize can be found in the following video:
All of these efforts have resulted in FoH becoming the recipient of the UN Climate Change Award under their program Momentum of Change, Lighthouse activities, under the category “Women for Results” in 2017.
Hatchet Caye’s Contribution
- So what will be done with the funds that Hatchet Caye donated to FoH? That is detailed in the list of items below:
- Creation of educational material
- Doubling of budgeted posters (from 500-1000), coloring books (from 500-1000), and puzzles (100-200) and/or
- Creation of similar materials for mangrove ecosystem/ecology/associated biodiversity and/or
- Same for seagrass ecosystem/ecology/associated biodiversity
- Minimum of 2 lionfish round ups (Lobsterfest 2018 and Arts Fest 2019) + PTGA/Hatchet Caye/FoH booths
- One-week educational summer program for Seine Bight and Placencia children ages 8 and up, with a focus on mangrove ecology
- September Reef theme parade commitment
- A minimum of three community consults (Monkey River, Placencia & Seine Bight)
- Promotional materials (rash guards, signs/billboard, hats, t-shirts, underwater maps of reef restoration sites for Moho Caye)
- At least 25% of the funds will be dedicated to implement priority activity(s) resulting from public consults (e.g seaweed farming, crab farming, more coral work, potential new ideas)
- Events/outreach coordinator dedicated to organization and dissemination of all events/activities inclusive of guarantee articles in the Placencia Breeze before and/or after specific events, highlighting the generous donation.
We look forward to participating and supporting these efforts.
Feel free to contact us anytime with questions or suggestions about our Belize private island resort community involvement projects.