Bob Riley – Mangrove Experts Visits Island
Local Developer, Sugar Caye Development, read the news account of San Pedro Junior College student Sherri Ann Pou and her class project where the group embarked on a mangrove restoration pilot project intended to increase awareness for the importance of mangrove ecosystems on our environment. In spite of the valiant efforts of students the mangrove planting did not yield the intended results.
And so with this inspiration the local developer thought, “what if mangrove planting and afforestation efforts could be combined with local real estate development, rather than simply being impacted with it?” This led them to research in mangrove planting and what would be involved with incorporating mangrove habitats into sustainable development initiatives.
Sugar Caye Development reached out to Mr. Bob Riley, Mangrove Expert, to see if his expertise could come to bear fruitful results for mangrove habitat creation on Ambergris Caye. Mr. Riley accepted the invitation to visit Ambergris Caye, and this week he met with representatives of numerous environmental groups while at the same time looking at the opportunities Ambergris Caye has for restoring mangroves around the needed areas of the island.
During his presentation at the Belize Yacht Club, Mr. Riley, explained how he goes about planting the mangrove propagules and how his methodology (Riley Encased Methodology) has a 100% success rate.
As Mr. Riley pointed out in the discussions while on the island, he is ecstatic to have such a welcoming environment to share his techniques and methodologies and he truly believes that Belize can put itself in position to be the world leader in mangrove afforestation and the establishment of mangrove habitats. He is optimistic that the size and scale of the mangrove restoration project being undertaken by Sugar Caye Development will help Ambergris Caye to be recognized as one of the most forward thinking and progressive areas in the world for sustainable development areas.
Ambergris Today contacted a few non-government organizations to see what their views on Sugar Caye Development’s mangrove restoration program the following press release was sent by the Ambergris Caye Citizens for Sustainable Development.
Press Release – Ambergris Caye Citizens for Sustainable Development Express their Concerns – Whilst the ACCSD found the presentation by Bob Riley, the mangrove reforestation expert, very interesting and informative and we are pleased that Sugar Caye and Dave Mitchell invited him to the island and have recognizing the need to “fix the sins” that they have committed by replanting the tens of thousands of mangroves that they have cut down. We are alarmed at the prospect of this methodology being used by this developer and others as an excuse to destroy more pristine wetland habitats and islands.
This mangrove reforestation method was developed by Mr. Riley to help areas in his native Florida where 30 to 40 years ago developers were allowed to destroy the fragile ecosystems to build canals and housing developments, or areas where human development had led to eroding shorelines – areas where there is no fish or bird life due to unsustainable development.
These types of destructive developments would not be allowed in the US or most other countries today. Why are we allowing them here? Are we going to follow the same mistakes of others 30 or 40 years ago? We have the tarpon, bone fish, rosettes spoonbills and egrets Mr. Riley says his methods have brought back to areas of Florida.
Developers need to be forced to work within and with our existing ecosystems, not destroy them and then be patted on the back when they bring in an expert to try to stem some of the bleeding.
The backbone of our island and our livelihoods are dependent on a healthy mangrove ecosystem. Over 80% of Ambergris Caye is made up of mangrove wetlands. A great portion of this is still healthy providing habitat and nursery to countless bonefish permit and Tarpon. So why should we destroy it and put at risk our beloved San Pedro. Mr Riley, the expert, agrees that once destroyed these areas cannot be brought back to how they were. Therefore, conservation is cheaper and guarantees long term benefits to everyone in Ambergris Caye.
Ambergris Caye Citizens for Sustainable Development – Embracing development that “meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.”