Belize is perfect for eco-tourism because of its spectacular teeming jungles, lush rainforests, dry pine savannas, tangled mangrove swamps, and dynamic coral reefs. It is truly one of the best examples in the New World Tropics of a species rich, biologically diverse country and is a leader in conservation initiatives.
On the other hand, it is estimated that Belize produces approximately 350,000 tons of solid waste annually from domestic households and commercial establishments. This means that each person living in Belize produces approximately two to three pounds of solid waste every day.
With so much garbage, illegal dumping has become a serious and growing problem in Belize. But, Belize is not sitting around doing nothing about it! On the contrary, dozens and dozens of universities and facilities for higher education from around the world have partnered with various governmental and corporate entities throughout Belize to foster “experiential learning” opportunities to help people understand the value of a protected ecology.
What is experiential learning? It is learning by living. It is experiencing nature up close and personal through project-based, hands-on, community level field courses in watershed ecology, forest ecology, marine ecology and intercultural global ecology. It is exploring jungles, rivers and reefs while viewing these ecosystems through microscopes, binoculars, cameras, computers and eyes that can focus both outward and inward. It is facing our fear of nature and realizing its roots tangled in folklore and facts, seeking the threads of truth and understanding. It is reconnecting with the Earth through sky, rock, water and life and learning to live within our means while respecting the lives of others no matter what race, gender, age, nationality or species.
Chaa Creek is among those leading the way in this effort through their diverse educational programs and Belize Eco-Tours which begin the moment a guest arrives! Guests are given tips on how to best interact with the natural beauty of the resort and learn how they can make a difference even when they return home.
The creative team at Chaa Creek even developed a manual crusher for metal cans that are then used as fill material in concrete building foundations. The design of this device was donated to the Belize Ecotourism Association who promotes it as a recycling tool that is sold as a fund raiser. Bravo Chaa Creek! For more on their innovative approach to preserving the health of Belize, visit http://www.chaacreek.com/conservation/