Letters — 05 May 2015
Mennonite corporation seems to menace the forests of Belize

April 28, 2015

Dear Editor,

While deforestation rates in Brazil have slowed of late in response to improved governance and commodity sector efforts, forests in Belize are falling faster than ever.

I awoke in the middle of the night with a vision of the huge road I recently saw being constructed by Mennonites in the Yalbac area. That road seems to aim to connect their extensive and growing land holdings near Spanish Lookout to the George Price Highway. Their huge investments in that road are clearly related to large scale forest clearing by them and others for chemically intensive monocultures of crops for export. I wonder just how much more deforestation will be needed to justify their investments in that road?

Shaken as I was by these thoughts, I fired up my computer to access publicly available satellite imagery to get a bigger picture. Sorry to say, the pictures on Google’s Earth Engine are distressing. Standing out prominently are the swaths of destruction in the Corozal District in the new Mennonite community of Neulands.

It seems wrong to single out and criticize a minority, but when that minority is economically powerful, seemingly immune to political pressure, and ecologically destructive, it would be wrong to remain mute. That said, I need to emphasize that I am concerned about Mennonites as an agile, organized, and well-funded corporate entity, not as a church.

To the extent that the Mennonite corporation’s  vision for Belize does not include forests, low carbon development, wildlife, other biodiversity, clean water, healthy reefs, or the tourism industry, I believe concerns are justified.

Sincerely,

Professor Francis E. “Jack” Putz
Gainesville, Florida (fep@ufl.edu; 1 352 392 1486)


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