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Chaa Creek praises the recent climate change forum in Belize

26 May 2011 No Comment

The international climate change forum recently held in Belize is another sign that the small Caribbean country is serious about being part of a global solution, according to Chaa Creek GM and Environmental Initiatives Director Lucy Fleming.

“It’s another indication that more and more people in Belize are really paying attention to, and participating in critical environmental issues,” Ms Fleming said.

“As with Belize recently taking the lead in the worldwide banning of bottom trawling as a fishing practice, we are once again showing that smaller developing nations have much to contribute towards global environmental issues. After all, even though we are very small polluters, we bear the brunt of environmental degradation, and it is up to us to help develop solutions. We desperately need to protect our most important economic and social asset – our beautiful, pristine environment,” she said.

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) hosted the workshop along with the Caribbean Community Climate Change Centre last month (28 April) in Belize. During the three day forum, scientists exchanged views and research findings on the effects of climate change on small economies such as Belize and her sister nations in the Caribbean region.

Dr Kris Ebi, Head of the IPCC Tech Support Unit said the Belize workshop was an important first.

“This is a first time that the Inter-Governmental Panel on Climate Change has held a regional meeting (here), so we’re very excited about these meetings. We’ve held two so far: one in Asia and one in South America; this is the third and the fourth is going to be in Africa. And it’s an opportunity for the scientists, in this case who work in small Island States, to come together and talk about the research… to make sure that it’s put into a format that can be accessed (by the) Inter-Governmental Panel on Climate Change and so can become a part of the assessment,” he told reporters, adding that the working groups will conclude and present their findings in 2014.

Dr Ebi went on to say that more work will be done in Belize.

“We know that the temperatures of the Caribbean Sea are well above what is considered to give rise to a healthy reef. As a result, we have been conducting… a number of research programs.  In fact, the Center has been able to put together some very critical research stations. One is in Discover Bay, Jamaica, which is jointly manned by NOAA and the Center. We are now in the process of putting another one in Belize that will be operated by the University of Belize, and later on, a second station in Belize, because the Barrier Reef being so long, we can have different parts. We can extend this to the Eastern Caribbean as well,” he said.

The Lodge at Chaa Creek is an internationally recognised model for responsible, sustainable tourism and is currently developing systems to record environmental initiatives in Belize to be accessed by the general public. Chaa Creek’s Natural History Centre continues to grow to catalogue and display Belize’s unique environmental, cultural and historical aspects to generate greater public awareness of this unique and fragile eco-system.

“Initiatives such as this recent IPCC workshop are not only important for scientific research, but also to generate public awareness about to the search for solutions to some of the critical environmental challenges we are all facing,” Ms Fleming said, “We look forward to seeing more and more interest in developing solutions for the problems facing Belize and other small nations that are being affected by climate change.”

Dr Ebi concluded that, “I think many people in the general population think that climate change is something in the future, it is something in the future but it is also something in the here and now. If people paid attention to what is going on in their back yard they would have an understanding that in many countries spring is coming sooner, fall is coming later in the year, bird migration patterns are changing, what you can plant is changing, so people are already seeing that in their backyard but not really understanding that these are the patterns to expect with climate change.”

Chaa Creek will continue to provide information on environmental issues and initiatives in Belize, and welcomes input and contributions.

Photo credit:http://www.whataretheywaitingfor.com/global-climate-change.html

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