“The goal of Chaa Creek is to establish a model of low-impact, sustainable development.
By stimulating interest in the environment, natural history and local culture we
hope to demonstrate the long term benefits of ecotourism over other
environmentally damaging options for development.”
This statement is and has been the guiding principal behind the development and daily operations of Chaa Creek. Our product is the lush tropical environment and natural wonders of Belize, its ancient Maya civilization and the harmoniously multicultural society that encompasses Belize today. These assets provide Chaa Creek and Belize’s tourism industry with a wealth of ingredients to empower the industry and provide benefits for her people. The challenge that we now face is how to sustain the wise utilization of these resources while insuring that they remain viable for the benefit of future generations.
Chaa Creek subscribes to the fundamental guidelines of ecotourism. We understand that in order to survive and prosper we must work harmoniously with the natural environment and the indigenous people of the local communities. Our staff, numbering over 100 full-time employees is entirely comprised of Belizeans from the local towns and villages. They truly make up the backbone and heart of our operation. Praises for their open friendliness and expertise are the most often heard comment from our guests.
Steadfast persistence combined with a pioneering spirit has seen Chaa Creek through to where we are today. We have remained true and faithful to our original goals and are committed to continue along this proven path. We sincerely hope that our efforts will be seen as a model of sustainable tourism development that will encourage others to follow a pathway of sustainable responsibility.
Please allow us to share our projects and commitments with you.
Thank you for caring,
Mick & Lucy Fleming
BELIZE FOUNDATION FOR CONSERVATION:
The Belize Foundation for Conservation (BFC) is a legally registered Non-Governmental Organization that was established by Mick and Lucy Fleming and is based at the Chaa Creek Natural History Centre. The mission of BFC is to “promote environmental education, cultural awareness and sustainable conservation practices” throughout Belize. The Foundation serves as the governing body for the many environmental and social projects and programs that are implemented and supported by Chaa Creek.
THE CHAA CREEK NATURAL HISTORY CENTRE:
Traveling and awareness go hand in hand at Chaa Creek, where we believe in enhancing our visitors’ experience through environmental education and cultural awareness. The internationally recognized Chaa Creek Natural History Centre opened in 1995 to become the first facility of its kind in Belize. The Centre and the adjoining 365 acre Chaa Creek Nature Reserve showcases the wonders of Belize’s natural world and fosters understanding of its fragile tropical habitats and unique flora and fauna. The Centre and Reserve have been developed to provide our visitors as well as local and international students with a comprehensive natural history education facility. The exhibits within the Centre cover a wide range of topics from anthropology to zoology and are designed and individually constructed by our staff of experienced naturalist guides. Belize is blessed with a harmoniously multicultural society and a rich heritage descending from the realm of the ancient Maya. Exhibits within the Centre shine the historical spotlight on the mysteries of the great Maya civilization of the past. There are many artifacts on display that were discovered here at Chaa Creek by archaeologists conducting research within the reserve. Interpretive exhibits of the culture and lifestyles of the modern day Maya promote cross cultural experience and understanding. The Centre also administers our Blue Morpho Butterfly Farm and the Rainforest Medicine Trail which showcases the medical plants of the tropical forest. Each year thousands of local and international visitors tour the Centre and we are proud to be recognized a one of the premiere environmental educational facilities in Belize.
The Lodge at Chaa Creek is totally committed to sustainable tourism and natural history education. It is this commitment that encourages us to continuously improve and expand our environmental education programs. Our Natural History Centre and Nature Reserve hosts field trips from many local and international school, colleges and universities each year. Our Environmental Education Outreach program takes environmental education directly to the schools and other educational institutions and organizations as well as to many special events throughout Belize. We have fostered an on-going partnership with the State University of New York to annually produce and host a five day teachers training program entitled the “Summer Teachers Institute in Environmental Studies and Culture”. This program promotes sustainable use of our natural resources and enhanced understanding of Belize’s cultural heritage. The program provides our local educators with the professional training and tools that are necessary to enhance their teaching skills and abilities. We also partner with the Ixchel Tropical Research Foundation to produce “Bush Medicine Camp” an annual youth camp that focuses on the many medicinal plants of the tropical forest and their traditional uses. Please select our “School Retreats” quick link for more information regarding our education programs.
In addition to the above educational programs, Chaa Creek hosts local and international student interns that are required to participate in real life work experience or research projects as part of their academic degree requirements.
At Chaa Creek we fully understand that the natural environment of Belize and the flora and fauna that it nourishes is the life giving force that sustains Chaa Creek and ultimately the well-being of our staff and their families. We realize that these resources must be protected, conserved and utilized in only the wisest manner. It is this realization and our commitment to sustainable tourism development that has prompted us to initiate and support many local conservation projects. Over the years we have partnered with numerous local and international agencies, organizations and individuals in an effort to facilitate environmental conservation and research projects. Some of the more noted projects are:
Howler Monkey Reintroduction – in partnership with the Yerkes Primate Institute and the Foundation for Wildlife Conservation
Birds Without Borders – neotropical migratory bird research in partnership with the Zoological Society of Milwaukee County
Vascular Plant Cataloging – in partnership with the New York Botanical Gardens
Agroforestry Research – in partnership with the New York Botanical Gardens
Bay Palm Reforestation – an on-going Chaa Creek Natural History Centre project
Archaeology Research – continuing research into the over 70 Maya sites within the Chaa Creek Nature Reserve by Dr. Samuel Connell of the University of California.
Throughout the years Chaa Creek has continually given support to the local community; for it is the people, the local hard working, honest Belizean people who have contributed so much to the success of Chaa Creek. Without their dedicated assistance, none of what we and our guests enjoy today could have been possible. Sustainable tourism must be firmly rooted within the local community and must provide true and lasting benefit to all. This is the fundamental reason why Chaa Creek supports many community projects and social welfare programs every year. We continuously offer assistance to local schools and training centers, sporting events and teams and other youth and social groups, just to name a few. Our education scholarship program provides full board tuition assistance to ten secondary level students each year. The Belize Center for the Visually Impaired and other social welfare organizations and programs are invited to enjoy our facilities on field trips. Many times each year we provide monetary and physical assistance to local organizations and groups that are conducting community based conservation and improvement projects such as anti-litter campaigns and development of public parks. In times of need, whether from individual tragedy or natural disasters that effect us all, Chaa Creek will always respond to the call for assistance. We are committed to our service to the community and will stand firm with our neighbors to make our community a better place for all.
BEST MANAGEMENT PRACTICES:
Chaa Creek is fully committed to the implementation and utilization of environmentally sound and sustainable Best Management Practices. All aspects of our operations and development must adhere to and utilize these accepted methods. Chaa Creek participates in and is currently benchmarked by the internationally recognized “Green Globe” program. Green Globe is a global environmental certification program for travel and tourism. We are also currently in affiliation through a memorandum of understanding with the Rainforest Alliance and their in-country counterpart, Program for Belize, to assist and promote a project to introduce Best Management Practices to the tourism industry throughout Belize. We not only encourage industry partners to embrace sustainability but we also share our commitment to sustainable tourism with our guests. Upon arrival our reception staff begins the process by thoroughly orientating each visitor and explaining our environmental policies and how each guest can assist with our conservation efforts. This orientation process is continued through written conservation messages in each guest room and through interaction with our staff throughout the property. To further this educational process, our Natural History Centre houses numerous informative conservation exhibits and displays. It is our sincere belief that our greatest success will be achieved by physically demonstrating sound environmental and social practices and assisting our guests to fully understand the many environmental, social and economic benefits that are achieved when development is tempered with sensible environmental and social practices.
Our written Environmental Policy sets our course and steers our daily operations. We adhere to the practice of Reduce, Reuse and Recycle. A written Purchasing Policy requires our suppliers to provide environmentally safe products in reduced or bulk packaging. All solid waste is separated and then reused or recycled. Organic kitchen waste and other organic waste such as grass trimmings are composted and then used as a soil enhancer in our ornamental gardens and in vegetable production at our organic farm. Restaurant food waste is given to a local farmer to supplement the feeding of his pigs. Metal cans are crushed in a manual crusher that was designed for Chaa Creek. The crushed cans are then used as fill material in concrete building foundations. We have donated the design of this device to the Belize Ecotourism Association who promotes it as a recycling tool that is sold as a fund raiser. All glass bottles and jars that are not returnable or reusable are crushed in an electric glass crusher. The crushed glass is then used as additional aggregate when mixing cement. In an effort to reduce our paper consumption, our administrative staff is encouraged to use paper on both sides when printing or copying and to make maximum utilization of the electronic media. Cardboard boxes are flattened out and used as ground cover at our organic farm to control the growth of unwanted weeds around the vegetable plants. Remaining waste paper and cardboard are sent to a commercial recycling facility. We purchase recycled paper and our commercial printing is done on recycled paper whenever possible. The electrical energy required by the lodge is produced on-sight by well maintained diesel generators. These generators will soon be converted to run on light crude oil that is being produced in Belize by Belize’s fledgling oil industry. Use of this crude will help reduce Belize’s dependence on imported foreign oil and support the industrial development of Belize. Energy efficient lighting combined with automatic timers and the utilization of natural lighting assists with the reduction of energy consumption. Our Macal River Camp facility utilizes solar power for all of its electrical needs. Water consumption is decreased by the utilization of low-flush toilets and low flow shower heads. Waste water is treated with biologic enzymes in properly designed septic tanks and soak-aways.