A multi-million dollar eco-friendly hotel to be built on Blackadore Caye has begun its second process of consultations. A number of amendments were made to the Environment Impact Assessment, based on consultations with those who will be affected by the development of the project. For the eco-friendly hotel to become successful, they need a healthy island for their environmental practices. According to biologist Juan Rovalo, who is assessing the area, the island isn’t “living” and needs lots of restoration. This is what the developers of the eco- friendly hotel plans to do over the next couple of years; restore the entire island. Dionne Chamberlain, Public Relations Officer for the Blackadore Group briefed the media on their future goals.
“Island restoration is our focus and our goal but it is an environmental concept brought to life that can be delivered world wide. It is a revenue and economy stream for the country for everybody, from north to south of this country not only for a few and select. It will create jobs, meaningful jobs, jobs that nobody in the rest of the world is trained on, equipment that people are not trained on, the biological data that we have collected and amassed over the last two years of study will be shared with all of the people in the conservation environment and even the equipment will be donated to them after our studies so that they can use it to make sure that we start doing things right and our scientists and biologists will be available so that we continue this for the rest of our lives within our country. Exposure for our people, a new quality of tourists, a growth in tourism by a thoughtful leadership segment who actually care, investors who actually listen.”
The island then, got its name from the rich and black healthy soil, which is scarcely present due to erosion. Mangroves, which were once present about a hundred years ago, are now gone. Rovalo who is from Mexico, explained the state of the island.
“Instead of having a diver’s thriving caye we are having an ecologically hammered and sick caye. We have the remains of the ecosystem that should be here all over the caye. Since the water is coming out and the coastal bed is being eroded then more and more salt water is coming in and hypersalinating this place. We have been studying the bird population, the mammal population including bats. So for example we have three species of bats here and that’s another sign that the ecology is not thriving because in the tropical areas that bat are a key indicator of the health of the ecosystem so just having the three species of bats tells you that it’s not a healthy ecology anymore.”
As we said, the Blackadore Group has changed their EIA due to the consultations. One of them was the over water rooms which they claimed will no longer be. Chamberlain explained more of the amendments.
“The project summary from when you were at the last consultation it has changed considerably. We have taken out that outrigger completely that people were against in the original consultation so the welcome center has not been removed to that other area and the entire outrigger has been dismantled. The hotel’s size has shrunk considerably because all of it is going to be on the land so it’s going to be a small hotel, a village center, private estates, clubhouse, a wellness center, the ecology center is there because we believe the need to preserve the history and the ecology. We want to preserve everything that we found on the island so that visitors, students and Belizean on a whole can see what this island was like one hundred years ago. We will have an employee housing area and we are looking at jobs countrywide at the end of the day for the amount of jobs we will be creating and the training we will be providing we are looking at a large grouping. We are looking at wellness in design, we have people like Deepak Chopra who are playing a part in the design aspects of it, for the environment and the preservation of history with the ecological center, the cultural preservation of course there will be social and economic value it is going to be a business at the end of the day but it will be a business that is worthwhile for Belizeans.”
Rovalo added that the tipping point for natural restoration to keep the island together has long gone but the coastline can be saved with human restoration.