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Nov 29, 2000

Study shows little impact on reef from farming

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A study on the effect of mainland agriculture on the barrier reef suggests that the present level of farming has not been harmful to the marine environment. The Watershed Reef Interconnectivity Scientific Study looked at soil erosion and sediment runoff from the North Stann Creek, South Stann Creek and Sittee River. Delia Tillett, the project’s deputy manager, is satisfied with the results, but still expressed caution.

Delia Tillett, Deputy Manager, WRISCs

“The three year study is important for Belize. It is very positive results. What we have found is that increased agricultural activity in the Stann Creek Valley is not having a negative effect on increasing sediment deposition and increasing associated contaminant deposition in the coastal zone of Belize. So it is a very important and positive study for the agricultural sector and also for the coastal zone managers. This is not to say that is not important to be cautious. The results are positive, but we need to monitor the situation to check that we don?t have any negative changes over time.”

Jose Sanchez, Reporting

One of the probable reasons for the positive results is that the channel between the mainland and the Barrier Reef is a natural mixing zone for sediment from river discharge. In short, most pollutants never make it as far as the reef. However, the preliminary findings do not open a door for massive agricultural expansion in the Valley.

Delia Tillett

“It is good that the result of our project is quite positive for citrus, banana, and agriculture sector and also for the coastal zone sector of Belize. But this is not to say for the people to be lax and say okay we can develop all the land. This study is based on the existing situation, land use that exists at the present moment, and the farming practices that exist at the present moment. According to the availability of land in the Stann Creek Area, there is the potential for the existing situation to double. The existing land use situation can double.”

Reporting for News Five, Jose Sanchez.

Tillett emphasized that the hills in the Stann Creek Valley are very prone to erosion and any further development in that area would have to be considered carefully.

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