Press Release For Immediate Release 5 June 2017
CELEBRATION OF WORLD ENVIRONMENT DAY – ‘Connecting People to Nature’
World Environment Day, celebrated each year on June 5, is the United Nations’ most important day for encouraging worldwide awareness and action for the protection of our environment. Since it began in 1974, it has grown to become a platform for public outreach on environmental issues that is globally celebrated in over 100 countries. World Environment Day is a day for everyone, everywhere. Global citizens have organized thousands of events, from neighbourhood clean-ups, to action against wildlife crime, to replanting forests. Above all, World Environment Day is the ‘people’s day’ for doing something to take care of the Earth or become an agent of change.
The Government of Belize, through the Department of the Environment (DOE), is responsible for the protection and conservation of its untold wealth through the control of pollution. The DOE is not alone in safeguarding Belize’s natural resources. Each one of us all share a role in nurturing, protecting, and using Belize’s natural resources for the benefit of all through changes which we can make to prevent and adapt to those threats. It is the Department of the Environment’s hope that all gain a greater appreciation and understanding of our precious natural resources, and the pressures and challenges that we as citizens face in ensuring that this natural heritage is there for future generations. When natural resources are used correctly and consistently in a manner that is safe for our environment, the results can be rewarding for us and for future generations. This is referred to as “sustainable use.” Each World Environment Day is organized around a theme that focuses attention on a particularly pressing environmental concern. The theme for 2017 is ‘Connecting people to nature’, and it encourages us to: Connect with nature in the city, green your city, green your street or a not-sopretty site, plant a tree, plant many trees. Pick up 10 (or 100) pieces of trash, organize a mass cleanup. Hit the park, hit the outdoors, enjoy your country’s natural areas. Challenge yourself, identify wildlife, reach the remotest corner of the park. Take only pictures, share with others, take them exploring too. Take off your shoes, get your feet (and hands) dirty. Don’t just look at the beautiful river, jump in! Take a hike, rely on your ears and nose to experience nature. Whether peering at a bug that has touched down on your arm, connecting with nature is often an intimate, fleeting experience. But every trip outdoors is also a chance to help protect the wild places and things we cherish, including our families.
For further information or clarification, please contact:
Chief Environmental Officer Department of the Environment, Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries, Forestry, the Environment & Sustainable Development
Market Square, Belmopan Tel: 822-2548/2819 Fax: 822-2860 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com Website: www.doe.gov.bz
NOTE TO EDITORS:
What is meant by natural resources? “Natural” means of nature or our environment. “Resources” mean useful materials or items. When combined, the term “natural resources” means our natural materials, such as soil, air, water, trees, that can be used.
Belize’s natural resources are an integral part of our history and our Belizean identity that consist of important marine and terrestrial sites of astounding beauty and supports rich biodiversity. In countless ways, they positively contribute to our own prosperity and well-being, seen every day through our economy, society, and culture. For example, the sea, forests and soils trap harmful greenhouse gases such as carbon dioxide and methane; farmers and fisher-folk harvest nature on land and under water to provide us with food; scientists develop medicines using genetic material drawn from many species of our diverse wildlife; insects pollinate fruit trees in the plantations up north.
Is it any wonder why people from near and far visit Belize? The Belize Tourism Board reported that in 2015, a whopping 1.3 million tourists visited our country to experience Belize’s rich ecosystems of forests, wetlands, mountains, caves, streams, rivers, and marine life. In fact tourism contributes to almost quarter of Belize’s economy and provides about 30% of the jobs locally. Our fertile land resources also have allowed our agriculture and fisheries sectors to flourish, particularly the sugar, banana, citrus, papaya, and seafood industries. Agriculture alone accounts for about 20 % of our economy and employs about a quarter of our people. There are other natural resources that we only began to discover over the past 10 years, such as oil and the exotic ‘xate’ palm for export, both of which generated millions of dollars annually.
While we might still have much more untold natural wealth, Belize also has many untold dangers and threats to our environment. Like every wonderful gift we receive, there is a risk of it being lost, destroyed or stolen. Like clean air, natural resources are often taken for granted, at least until they become scarce. Similarly, our natural resources can be severely impacted unless we manage them properly. Among the many environmental problems are local threats such as improper uses or overuse of our resources, pollution, and global threats such as climate change and loss of biodiversity. Even more troubling is the fact that many of us still do not understand the value of our natural resources. Thousands of people in Belize spend every working day ‘connected to nature’ but might not fully appreciate their dependence on natural water supplies and how nature provides their livelihoods in the form of fertile soil. However they are among the first to suffer when ecosystems are threatened.
Could this be a reason for some of our failures to acquire and develop resources around us? Our greatest threat to our natural resources is our own lack of knowledge and disregard for what we have and how best we could use it. No matter how young or old you are, we all have a responsibility to learn and play a greater role in protecting our environment