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Jan 23, 2020

Turneffe Atoll Trust on Land Trust Agreement

According to Executive Director of the Turneffe Atoll Trust, Alex Anderson, forty percent of the land mass at Turneffe was already sold to private entities and this move reserves the sixty percent of mangroves, sea grass beds and terrestrial property left. Anderson says government received funds, but it’s neither a purchase price nor a private transaction. The ‘land trust’ agreement is about securing a five hundred-million-dollar investment that comes into Belize annually.


Alex Anderson

Alex Anderson, Executive Director, Turneffe Atoll Trust

“The single most destructive threat to Turneffe since the marine reserve designation has been destructive unsustainable tourism development. As a matter of fact, we have always been an advocate for sustainable development on multiple occasions. 2018, we launched a very critical document and a series of other documents – Risking the Atoll was the name of that document and that really highlighted the major threat development had to Turneffe. And so we quickly recognized that we needed to show how important not just the eco-system services, but we needed to put a dollar figure to how important Turneffe was to Belize. In that process, we funded several studies; a blue carbon study that highlighted that Turneffe is worth six point nine million if government is able to put in place a blue carbon project that is the worth of the mangrove and sea grass beds at Turneffe. We looked at the shoreline protection value of Turneffe. And so this one estimated that having Turneffe here in this natural state provides three hundred and eighty two million dollars to the Belizean economy of derived benefits from avoided shoreline protection. And so when you look at the tourism product and commercial product, all those sum up to over five hundred million dollars worth of revenue that comes into the country every year just for having Turneffe there in a natural state. And so that’s the reason why we sought to go and propose to the government to create a partnership that will allow for the remaining lands at Turneffe to remain in a natural state in perpetuity. It is not a private transaction.  I am not buying fifteen or seventeen thousand acres of land from the government. What I am doing is providing an incentive for the government to still hold title to this land, be the beneficial owners of this land. But I am strapping the government’s hand because they will no longer be able to give out these lands to whoever they want at a social rate.”

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