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Apr 29, 2009

Audubon Society calls Victoria Peak clearing illegal & unnecessary

Story PictureThe illegal clearing at Victoria Peak has had residents up in arms since it first came to light last Thursday. The unique and pristine vegetation was destroyed in an area covering ten by fifteen feet at the summit of the national monument to accommodate the landing of a BATSUB helicopter on April eight. Victoria Peak is co-managed by the Belize Audubon Society and the N.G.O. is not taking this lightly. This morning on Open Your Eyes, Executive Director for Audubon, Anna Hoare, said that not only was it illegal, it was completely unnecessary because there are helicopter landing sites available.

Anna Hoare, Executive Director, Belize Audubon Society
“We have two helicopter landing sites in that area. One is at Cockscomb Basin Sanctuary, which is close to the visitor centre so that if there is an emergency that’s where the helicopter lands and we have one at K-eighteen, kilometre eighteen, so it’s twenty-seven kilometres to Victoria Peak. So we have a helicopter landing site at kilometre eighteen so again in case of an emergency that’s where the helicopter would land. So the Belize Audubon Society maintains those landing sites, meaning we always clean it so that a helicopter can land there. So absolutely no need to have any clearing anywhere other than those designated sites.”

“It’s illegal. A natural monument or any other protected area; you can’t just go and do anything that you want. So for Belizeans or anybody—we’re taking this opportunity to inform everybody that we have laws that govern what occurs in protected areas and we want them to respect that. That’s why, as the managing agency, you come to us and we’ll advise you on what to do. Really it was unnecessary to do something like that.”

And while the clearing was unnecessary, to make matters worse, the helicopter never landed at the site.

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