Turneffe Atoll Trust has recently launched Three Major New Initiates which we feel are badly needed to solidify our efforts to protect Turneffe. The first is a Conservation Oversight/Watchdog Project which will closely monitor all development permits on the atoll to ensure that stakeholders are notified early about these projects, that adequate and accurate environmental and engineering expertise is provided, and most importantly, that developers follow the environmental laws of Belize. This will involve hiring local legal counsel, and we are hoping to hire a full-time attorney in Belize.
Turneffe Atoll Trust is also in the process of developing a Land Conservation/Land Trust Program for Turneffe Atoll. Much of the most environmentally sensitive property at Turneffe has been sold to private individuals and/or companies over the past 10-15 years. Although the Marine Reserve offers some protection from destructive development, regulatory control remains with governmental agencies who often operate contrary to the best interests of the Marine Reserve. As such, key areas of Turneffe remain vulnerable to destructive development and the most definitive way to prevent such development is through a Land Conservation Program that will purchase, or otherwise bind, property for conservation purposes in perpetuity.
To this purpose, Turneffe Atoll Trust has hired Kristin Kovalik as our Land Conservation Director. Kristin has more than 17 years of experience as a Senior Project Manager working for a national land conservation organization in the US. Her skills, including land acquisition, fund raising, and conservation planning, are perfectly suited for our plans.
Our third major initiative is the organization of an official Conservation Alliance between Turneffe’s Fishermen and Turneffe’s Ecotourism Sector. Commercial fishermen and eco-tour operators, such as Turneffe Flats, have common interest in seeing that Turneffe’s environment remains healthy. We feel that this Alliance offers a significant symbiosis as commercial fishermen bring local expertise and influence to the table while the ecotourism sector bring international connections as well as access to funding. Together we hope to offer more effective advocacy for environmental protection of Turneffe and possibly other mutually beneficial projects.
In summary, Turneffe Atoll Trust has enjoyed several significant successes but there is much left to be done. Unfortunately, the Turneffe Atoll Marine Reserve will not adequately protect Turneffe from exploitation by destructive development without assistance from Turneffe Atoll Trust. Our new programs will, in conjunction with the Marine Reserve, offer a much greater level of protection and to hopefully meet our goal of seeing Turneffe sustainably managed for the benefit of all. These efforts will be expensive and we will be seeking your continued support.