Making a difference

Tuesday, August 24th, 2010

We humans generate  pounds of waste every day, creating a tremendous impact on the planet’s health. Have you ever heard the phrase, “Making a difference is not about being a big hero, it is simply about leaving the bathroom a little cleaner going out, than when you came in?” There are many small things that we can do to support the cause of having a healthy Mother Earth.

You can start by replacing light bulbs with energy-efficient bulbs. This is a great idea, considering they last much longer and will save you money on your electricity bill and protect the environment. What about taking shorter showers? Two or three minutes less saves 9-12 gallons of water. If you have noticed leaky faucets and pipes at home, fix them as soon as possible. A dripping tap can waste up to 2,000 gallons of water each year! Also, drive less: walk, ride a bike, or plunge in and swim to work. You’ll exercise and save money.

Always remember to dispose of trash properly: most trash eventually finds its way to the oceans. A simple piece of bubble gum takes 60 years to degrade and cigarette butts, like most human-made trash, are not biodegradable. Pick up trash when you see it, whether in the street, on the beach, in the sea, or anywhere else. Get a re-usable bag to go shopping and have your own water bottle to avoid buying water in disposable plastic bottles. 

You can also become a volunteer of the Marine Park and do your part in supporting Roatán’s conservation efforts!


SEAGRASS – THE FORGOTTEN ECOSYSTEM

Friday, March 19th, 2010

To create the “turquoise water and white sand beach” image that is printed on every postcard and advertisement in the Caribbean, hotels and resorts continue to remove seagrass. In addition to extracting it from the water, hotels and businesses either bury washed up vegetation or place it in plastic bags bound for the dump. This is done to create a more aesthetically pleasing swimming environment with the belief that seagrasses harbor organisms harmful to swimmers. Seagrasses, however, are an economically and ecologically crucial marine habitat. The same seagrasses that are removed for being unsightly actually protect the white sand beaches and tropical waters that draw tourists to our island.

 People should know that waters lacking sediment and nutrients are better for coral reef health. Seagrasses reduce impacts of sewage and run-off on corals by absorbing much of the nutrients before they reach the reef zone. Seagrasses also reduce wave power, thereby consolidating sediments and minimising coastal erosion. A recent study in Mauritius found that beachside hotels that removed seagrass became the victims of their own innovation. In as little as a year, beaches had entirely disappeared due to coastal erosion. The fishing industry also benefits from the existence of seagrasses. They provide shelter for juvenile grouper, snapper, conch and lobster, and are an important food source for adult fish, helping to keep fishing sustainable.

 Coral reefs are designed to benefit from occasional natural disturbances such as hurricanes. But human degradation of Roatan’s reef and associated habitats (upon which tourism success depends) is reducing its ability to recover from such events. The potential result–ecological and economic collapse, perhaps as soon as the next major hurricane.

 While authorities fail to enforce environmental laws, developers need to take on more of a moral responsibility to ensure that their activities are not damaging the natural resources that bring people to the island.