Year-End Destruction at San Pedro’s Very Popular Green Iguana Eco-Park
On the last working days of 2023, a crew hired by Belize Electricity Limited (BEL) chain-sawed the majority of the mangroves in and around the San Pedro Eco-Iguana Park.
Calvin, the owner/proprietor of the sanctuary sent me a message when the chopping began and I was torn at first…here’s why.
The “land” where the park is located is adjacent to Calvin’s property but owned by Belize Electricity Ltd (or BEL) – in fact, they own the highly traffic road that runs by the iguana park. BEL is majority-owned by the Govt of Belize and Belize’s Social Security.
They had asked Calvin to vacate the land over a year ago but through negotiation (much of it spurred on by YOU – and your support after I posted this: The Future of Calvin’s Green Iguana Eco-Corner Sanctuary in Peril) – they came to an agreement. Calvin had been tending to this area (with BEL’s knowledge) for years. Calvin would receive a long-term lease for some of the property that his sanctuary
Incredible. Amazing. HOORAY! They get it! But then, this sign went up, and a permit and…
The San Pedro town council stepped in for a few hours but the permit was proper and official. And BEL, later, issued a statement about the project (see below for memo from BEL)
Let’s just say – there is NOTHING selective about what happened next.
But this is not just a “proper permitting issue” – this is an island issue, an economic issue and an issue about tourism. In a town, where more and more wooden homes are being replaced by huge, multi-story cement boxes that take up 100% of their lot size (leaving no room for any greenery). A town that’s becoming more and more congested with traffic and giant trucks.
And a town where it is starting to feel like bars, gift shops and a new 24-hour casino are the only attractions.
Whether you like iguanas or not, whether you consider them an invasive species or not, this is a TOP attraction on Ambergris Caye. Featured on websites, Top 10 Lists, YouTube videos, guide books (you can see a list of TripAdvisor reviews already up about its destruction). The park is featured in the new Lonely Planet Belize. It is one of a very small group: a budget (no money required), kid-friendly, locally-run activity on this island. One that draws folks to town – perhaps for lunch afterwards…or a run through the artisan market beforehand.
This is also not an issue of electricity. More infrastructure to grow of power grid is MUCH NEEDED on this island. And I understand that this area has been slated for a battery to make that happen but…is this really the only area? And if so, did every single tree on this property need to be razed to make it happen?
Why didn’t the San Pedro Town Council step in – or the Belize Tourism Board – to monitor this situation?
Is marketing Belize’s diversity, eco-tourism, and small, local experiences just talk?
Here’s some video that shows more of the destruction, you need to stop by to get a good sense of it.
Whether you are an iguana-phile or not, whether you think wild reptiles should be fed or not, this destruction seems incredibly myopic. Let me know what you think.
What can you do to help? You can stop by and see the…mess. And support Calvin – I know he will need to re-think this entire area – maybe you can help. You can share this post. You can comment below about how you feel.
Memo from BEL about use of land