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Aug 14, 2019

Minister Heredia Speaks on Mangrove Clearing for House Lots

Last week, news of mangrove clearing and dumping of trash for landfill in San Pedro started to circulate online.  According to the island’s newspaper, the San Pedro Sun, residents started to see the cutting of mangroves several weeks ago. The papers reported that loads of sargassum, as well as garbage, have been dumped into the lagoon to fill it up.  The purpose for these activities appeared to have been for the distribution of lots. These activities have raised eyebrows on the island, particularly with the removal of the mangroves and use of trash for landfill.  Today, when we caught up with Minister of Tourism Manuel Heredia Junior, we asked him about those activities. Heredia says that there are two different works being done and does not know if the private developer has the clearances to do his development. The other project, according to Heredia is government sanctioned.  He’s is leading that to make space for more residences. According to Heredia, he is not using any garbage and he also doesn’t need any clearances because he only removed limited and small mangroves. He says the choice had to be made for the low impact project to accommodate the people.

 

Manuel Heredia Jr.

Manuel Heredia Jr., Minister of Tourism

“Those are twenty-two lots that were surveyed over there. San Pedro is growing and there is not much solid land anymore on the island, so we have to make use of whatever is available that is best suited for residential that we can find today. These are twenty-two lots that were issued over there. Yes, sargassum is in the abundance through-out the coast of Belize and that is being used as fill to try to build it up to a certain height. After that they will put probably sand or white marl or other materials to make it more livable. So, yes, that part I can tell you because it was an initiative for myself, together with the permission of the government, to issue these twenty-two lots over there. The first seven that were issued are practically filled with the sargassum and you will see shortly that it will be filled with cap of white lime or marl.”

 

Andrea Polanco

“Did you guys clear any mangroves for those subdivisions to take place?”

 

Manuel Heredia Jr.

“Yes. In those areas there are parts of it that has low mangroves and we had to clear it off.”

 

Andrea Polanco

“Did you get an ECP or an EIA to conduct that kind of clearing?”

 

Manuel Heredia Jr.

“Well, you know, for a small subdivision for that, I do not consider, as a past fisherman and a person who has sponsored and work with a lot of reserves in San Pedro, I don’t consider that massive or anything. Twenty-two lots is not a huge amount over there. So, whenever you will do massive things then that is when you will do an EIA or when you will do huge projects like hotels then there is the need for these types of things. But for something small to be able to assist your poor residents and people like that, there has to be some kind of flexibility.”

 

Andrea Polanco

“But Minister you recognize the value of mangroves to an area such as San Pedro; they help to prevent erosion; they serve as breeding grounds for fish; it provides protection for the island, as well. Isn’t it illegal to cut mangroves or don’t you need some sort of permission from the DOE?”

 

Manuel Heredia Jr.

“Well, if we are going to do massive then we will need it. But, again, in life, life is real they say. As a country grows; as a community grows, there is need for expansion. Rent in the islands is expensive so we have to try and accommodate our residents in low income residential lots. There has to be balance in everything so we have to sacrifice a little for your people.”


Viewers please note: This Internet newscast is a verbatim transcript of our evening television newscast. Where speakers use Kriol, we attempt to faithfully reproduce the quotes using a standard spelling system.

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