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Sunday, March 7, 2010

The Belize Times



Elizabeth Pridgeon P C S D i s a n o t - f o r- p r o f i t corporation, run by a group of volunteers, who seek to protect and respect the natural environment along the entire length of the Placencia Peninsula. Established in 2006, PCSD now has a strong following of active members from all three villages of the Peninsula (Placencia, Seine Bight and Maya Beach) alongside an avid group of interested people who follow the organisation’s invaluable work from further afield. A grass-roots environmental group of this nature is a critical force in the sustainable and appropriate development of any tourist area in Belize, and as such it is guaranteeing the livelihoods of future generations of the Peninsula. This week’s Nation Builder is therefore the PCSD as an organisation, and its Board of Directors in particular. PCSD has multiple objectives, all of which it actively ensures it fulfils. The organisation circulates information to local residents (and other interested parties) about environmental and developmental issues of contemporary importance on the Peninsula, ensuring that dubious developmental plans cannot be ‘slipped’ through the approval process without the majority of residents being made aware of the implications. Numerous such occasions could have caused massdestruction of the native habitats without the prompt and proactive involvement of PCSD. Controversial issues, such as Placencia North International Airport, the Robert Trent Jones II Golf Course and P l a c e n c i a M a r i n e h a ve b e e n vociferously contested, a campaign which has been continuously led by PCSD. The organisation sought media support in August of last year when plans were leaked for a casino, hundreds of Canadian time-share apartments and the widespread ‘sale’ and development of just about every inch of the Peninsula that was before then unaccounted for. Bringing to light the dubious nature of the National Environment Advisory Committee (NEAC), the PCSD focused on the excessive development proposals for Big and Little Channel Cayes, 14 miles northeast of Placencia, and demanded that the developers be mandated to complete a full Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA). Without the PCSD spearheading this campaign, and acting as spokesperson for many concerned parties, it is probable

the PCSD into the Toledo district, and the Ambergris Caye Citizens for Sustainable Development (ACCSD) has a similar role on the northern cayes. The PCSD realise the crux of the development conundrum to be that, while rapid development may solve unemployment issues of the moment, they will destroy not only employment opportunities, but the very basis of our country in the future. As such, the PCSD works tirelessly to protect the environment for a brighter Belizean future, building a healthy nation for our children’s children. A truly commendable nation builder.

that unsustainable and damaging development would have gone ahead without so much as a backward glance at the destruction it would cause. This is just one example of how PCSD literally fights for the rights of the natural environment. Two key figures in PCSD are co-chairpersons Ms. Mary Toy and Mr. Vincent Lopez. Both have been instrumental in fostering support for PCSD initiatives and in educating and promoting the importance of environmental protection for the entire Peninsula (and beyond). Ms. Mary Toy focuses her efforts predominantly within the Placencia community, while Mr Vincent Lopez works out of his home in Seine Bight. Mr Vincent, affectionately called “Mr V” by all who know him, says he was approached by a couple who encouraged him to join in the early days of the organisation, and he has never looked back: once he knew it represented a group effort to protect the environment, he hurriedly joined and has been an active member ever since. He considers his role, as a member of PCSD, to be a “Watchdog of the Environment”, and he takes this responsibility very seriously. PCSD has recently started to publish a regular newsletter called “Roots and Reef ” which is circulated both in hard copies and on the internet, which promises to secure

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wide readership and to continue the task of educating the masses about environmental concerns on the peninsula. The group has also proved a role model to other environmental groups: the South Coast Citizens for Sustainable Development (SCCSD) was formed to extend such work of


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Belize Times 100307  

Belize Times Newspaper for March 7, 2010

Belize Times 100307  

Belize Times Newspaper for March 7, 2010