Five weeks ago a 75 year old tree at Guanacaste Park Junction, leading into Belmopan, [TREE PLANTING FOOTAGE]was cut down to make way for a roundabout, a project under the Belize Road Safety Project. This was despite the impassionate pleas on social media to save the tree. Now the Belize Road Safety Project, on Earth Day 2015, is making it up by planting 15 forest trees in the Guanacaste Park, including Mahogany trees.
“The importance of these trees are significant. Also, the support of the Government of Belize is giving towards conservation is important. Today we highlight the efforts of conservation in Belize with our diplomats society, our school children and other Government ministries.
And while the Belize Audubon Society and the Ministry of Works and Transports might seem like an unusual mix, the CEO in the Ministry of Works and Transports Errol Gentle says it really is not.
“If you understand the work that we do, at times we have to remove certain objects/obstructions from beside the road way when we are constructing new roads or when we are widening the roads or when we are improving the roads. Sometimes, we have to remove trees, so what better way to partner with Audubon to come and plant trees. We have had to remove trees from in the roadway before , we will have to remove some more sometime in the future when we continue the development of our infrastructure. So the more we can partnership with an organization like Audubon to plant trees so there is a balance.”
As it relates to the 75 year old tree that was cut down on March 13th earlier this year, CEO Gentle says it was a hard-felt decision but a decision, nonetheless, that had to be made.
It wasn’t something easy to do… it wasn’t easy for me to give the approval for the tree to be removed, but we are also in the business of saving lives. The entire road safety project is about saving lives. Because we are doing a roundabout, because we are doing improvement to the infrastructure, would have been a death trap and a hazard. So it was a decision I had to make and that is the reason why today I am happy to be here to plant a tree. Yes I think we planted a significant amount of trees here today. That tree was a bit old and even after taking down that tree, I was happy about the position because some of the limbs were already getting hallow. I think we are making it up here today by planting these trees.”
“They asked to cut down the tree… they didn’t have to consult Belize Audubon Society because we have no jurisdiction over the rain tree that existed in front of the park. Still they asked us and based on their study, they realized that for the Belizean safety, the tree had to be removed. A rain tree, I must say, that one in front of Guanacaste is historic for the age and the amount of years and the amount of time it has been there, but also a rain tree in Belize is not an endangered tree. You can easily replant a rain tree and if you look right agesnt to the one that has been removed, there are several other rain trees. As you can see, there are several rain trees. Today on Earth day , the Road Safety Project, in their efforts of keeping a green Belize, replanted eight mahogany trees.”
In the midst of all the clamor for the preservation of the rain tree, one voice was not heard. The Belize Audobon, Belize’s foremost environmental organization, withheld comment on the matter. Today we asked them what their position on the matter was at that time.
15 trees in total were planted at the Guanacaste Park Reserve in addition to 10 more trees that were planted at the Belize Conservation and Management Area in Belmopan. Several Dignitaries were present at the Tree planting ceremony in Belmopan including Mayor Khalid Belisle, Mexican Ambassador Carlos Melendez, CEO Errol Gentle, and CEO Yvonne Hyde. Also present was at the ceremony were students from the Our Lady of Fatima primary school, in Roaring Creek.