“One of the biggest concerns after the very first public consultation in January was that we were not meeting with the people who would be impacted by this project, both directly and indirectly,” stated Dionne Chamberlain (Dr.), Public Relations Representative, Blackadore Development Group in an email sent out to development stake holders.
Thus, before the final edits and presentation of Blackadore’s Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) were made, the development’s group set out to work diligently to remedy the situation and consulted with 5,000 people countrywide and completed 87 surveys (over 60% in San Pedro) from May to August. Those people included the following groups:
Fishermen (both generational and through the Sports Fishing Association)
The San Pedro Tour Guide Association
The Hol Chan Marine Reserve
The Department of the Environment
The Crocodile Research Coalition
University of Belize
San Ignacio Community
Caye Caulker Community
Southern Environmental Organizations
Global Indigenous Movement
With these consultations, Dionne indicated that the Blackadore Development Group would make edits to the EIA. The public consultation with amendments to the EIA were then presented in a public forum held on Wednesday, August 24. Only a very small fraction of the island community was in attendance and most of the tour guides and fishermen who were there were very vocal about not being in agreement with the caye’s development. Again, their main concerns were of the over-the-water structures which the guides and fishermen say would destroy the natural breeding/fishing ground habitats around the island.
Contrary to their concerns, the Blackadore Development Team pointed out that the The large outrigger structure (over-the-water) has been removed and replaced with 33% less space; about three acres will be used over the water. The resort will have 44 units, 36 villas and one club house on the 105 acre caye.
The development will utilize less than 50% of the total acreage of the island with the remaining areas being set aside as conservation zones. Their research indicates that Blackadore Caye is dying. Current studies have concluded the biodiversity of the island has been significantly affected by a combination of historical usage dating back to the time of the Maya, and being in the wake of repeated natural disasters. Blackadore is providing ongoing analysis that will direct guidance on how to restore habitats and increase the island’s biodiversity, inclusive of the infrastructure development stage. (Click Here to Read More).
(Above) One of the first drafts on planned development on Blackadore Caye
(Below) New draft on planned development after second EIA on Blackadore Caye
Leonardo DiCaprio and investors purchased the land in 2007, already invested large sums of money in one of the most comprehensive plans that should transform the island to model of sustainable development for the entire world. They will pump $400Mil Bze into the project over the next 20 years, provide 400 construction jobs and about 1,000 permanent jobs for Belizeans. During the consultation they explained how construction will be done in phases so that species can adapt to the changes in the environment, dredging will be minimized and existing barge channels will be used to ship building supplies (much that will be prefabricated on the mainland to reduce impact). A few of the main elements of the green resort development are the use of organic foods, only limited fossil fuel use on the island, 100% renewably powered living, composted waste systems and use of green materials.
But as those in attendance voiced their discontent with the project, Mayor Daniel Guerrero stood up to the podium and struck back. He urged them to look at the project with open minds as the development is one of the biggest the country has ever seen with benefits substantially improving the conditions on the island, providing an environmentally sound resort with huge economic, social, educational benefits for Belize.
The final decision will be made on August 31st: Questions or questions can be sent to: [email protected]