Belize Botanic Gardens

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					 Belize Botanic

Ecotourism & Botanic Gardens
Belize Botanic Gardens
P.O. Box 180
San Ignacio, Cayo


                          duPlooy’s Jungle Lodge
                          P.O. Box 180
                          San Ignacio, Cayo
                                        History of duPlooy,s
                                       Belize Botanic Gardens

►   When Ken and Judy duPlooy moved to Belize in 1988 with five daughters, the plan was to purchase
    land in the forest to build a small ecolodge. When we found a 20-acre cow pasture located on the
    lovely Macal River in Western Belize, we bought that instead and immediately started planting and
    building, opening the first 6 rooms and restaurant in late 1988. Since then building plans have been
    completed with a total of 18 rooms.

►   While building was going on, the neighbors were busily destroying the adjacent 45 acres by
    bulldozing and clearing, causing extensive erosion and general damage to the property. Their plan
    was to plant citrus. Having committed ourselves to organic growing, this was disturbing as citrus
    requires masses of chemicals to grow successfully. Finally in 1993 we were able to purchase the land
    and restoration was begun.

►   There was no intention at that time of starting a botanic garden and initial plantings consisted of
    about 100 varieties of tropical fruit trees to demonstrate to farmers that there is an organic
    alternative to citrus and bananas, two of Belize’s main crops. Ken also started a native orchid
    collection and began gathering Belizean palms and other plants.

►   In 1997, after taking a collection of Belizean plants to the Chelsea Flower Show and winning a silver
    medal, the decision to register the garden with the Government of Belize was made and Belize’s only
    botanic garden was officially begun with NGO status. At that time plant records were started,
    working back to 1993. Fortunately, we had kept collection records and with some outside help, were
    able to identify most of the plants.
duPlooy’s Jungle Lodge
             Orchids, orchids, orchids

►   Ken duPlooy had a keen interest in orchids and a fascination for the great glass houses in the
    temperate world. He had gathered an impressive orchid collection in a nursery behind his house.
    When Brendan Sayers from the Irish National Garden, on an orchid collecting expedition to Belize
    heard of Ken’s collection he stopped by to see it. This began a collaboration with the Irish Garden
    and, many expeditions later, 20 new species have been added to the Belize list with one newly

►   At this point Belize Botanic Gardens needed a plan for the future. Funding so far had come from
    duPlooy’s Jungle Lodge and; while lots of people were hearing about the project and visiting, we did
    not charge admission. Quite a few visitors had given us donations and the lodge was doing well, so
    we were actually accomplishing quite a bit with very little money.

►   Ken drew up plans for the physical layout of the garden, including a wooden copy of a glass orchid
    house, several native habitat areas, visitors’ center, etc., all terrifying me, as I am the one who
    directs finances and the garden project seemed overwhelming to me. How would we pay for this?
Encyclia cochleata, Belize’s National Flower
                         Where, oh where, is Belize Botanic Gardens?
                                 Where, oh where, is Belize?

    To find out exactly see:

      Our location in a remote area 10 miles from the nearest town and the small population of Belize – 250,000
 in the entire country – plus the small number of visitors – about 150,000 total annually, made attracting crowds of
  visitors a challenge. Our lack of funds made it difficult to build fancy exhibits, visitors’ center, etc. so we kept our
 plans simple. Our goal was sustainability in five years. This is taking a bit longer than planned, but we are getting
                     there. With Pared-down plans and a staff of seven, serious work was begun.

First, with the help of Raleigh International Volunteers, trails were built and, to display native plants several Belizean
 habitats were planned. To date there are over 2 miles of trails with more under construction. Raleigh also did the
main construction on our vine pergola which has been a site for weddings, catering and musical events. Starting in
 late 2004 a regular series of events will be presented. An orchid house, again with the help of Raleigh was built to
                house our growing orchid collection as well as other epiphytes and other native plants.

Since native orchids are often small and not what people are used to seeing displayed, people who visit our orchid
   house will often ask, “where are the orchids?”. This is our opportunity to introduce them to orchids and their
importance and also to explain CITES and CBD to them. There is a small experimental crop of vanilla in the orchid
                                house to test it as a viable economic crop for Belize.
Belize Botanic Gardens
                       Plants of the Maya

an Shows a canistel or egg fruit

                                   Handmade dugout canoe or dory
                           Everyone Likes Medicine Trails

   Since ethnobotany is “in” , not to mention its importance in today’s world, Belize Botanic Gardens
    needed to establish a medicinal trail. A “Plants of the Maya” habitat was built which displays
    plants used by the Maya people who first inhabited Belize. Maya people still inhabit Belize
    and there are several important sites nearby. Herbal remedies made by a local organization are
   Sold in Belize Botanic Gardens` gift shop.

   In the previous photo Lloyd is holding a canistel or egg fruit which has medicinal uses and
   Is good to eat. If you ever get hold of any, try a tradational American style pumpkin custard
    pie recipe. Mmmm!

   You will also see a prototype of a dugout canoe. These canoes were used for herding logs down
    the Macal River and for trading until not so long ago. Belize was originally exploited for logwood
    used for dyes and later for hardwoods. Small versions of these canoes are still used for
    conching on the coast, mostly by garifuna people.
People in the garden

   Belizean Students planting a tree “to go”
         Visitors welcome and Volunteers
                            Visitors                                                Volunteers

In 2000 Belize Botanic Gardens was ready to charge a           A volunteers program has started and has helped our staff
     small fee to visitors. This coincided with write-ups in        produce an education program for Belizean School
     a couple of guide books so people soon started                 Children. Our volunteers pay to work so this is a
     dribbling in.                                                  small source of income for Belize Botanic Gardens.

We needed to do other marketing in the area so we looked       Volunteers are often students who have negotiated credit
    to Ecotourists, who make up a large part of the visitor         from their Universities.
    base to Belize. BUT – Botanic Gardens are not
    generally perceived as “eco” destinations, so how          Volunteers have been helpful in many ways – collecting,
    would we attract this group of people who are                   recording, producing printed matter, helping with
    genuinely concerned about environmental issues,                 school visits, etc. as well as building
    sustainability and preserving cultures? We found out
    that this is because they like things to be “natural”
                                                               Our remote location and the economics of Belize make it
    and botanic gardens are normally in a contrived
                                                                    difficult to draw volunteers from the community, but
                                                                    we are working on ways in which more local people
                                                                    can become a part of the garden by joining volunteer
So, we needed to market such things as gardens’ role in             programs.
     preserving biodiversity worldwide, let them know
     what we are doing in the community and how we are
     making ourselves sustainable.
          People in the garden

Here Innocencio introduces a visitor
to “Bob”. Everyone has a job – or       Judy points out plants in the orchid house
several. Bob’s jobs are providing       Which features over 200 species of native
organic fertilizer, grass cutting and   Orchids. No hybrids here so lots of interpret-
pulling the Buggy around the            tation is necessary for people who have only
garden.                                 seen fancy hybrid orchids.
                            To X the Exotic?
At first, other than the Tropical Fruits, Belize
Botanic Gardens was going to be only native
Plants, but on reflection, we decided that exotics
should be included as Belizean people don’t
Often get to see many of these plants.

To display native plants, various habits have
 been established or planned. These include a
 Pine ridge area, Savannah, Rainforest, Inland
 Lagoon, Native Orchid House And Plants of the
 Maya, including a medicinal trail and traditional
 Maya House

Plants like this Ylang ylang will be used for
making essential oils for sale in our gift shop and
in the spa at duPlooy’s.

Big or small
 plants are
                                     Sabal mauritiiformis

               Pleurothallis yucatenensis
      What is ecotourism?
Is it . . .

              ECO (- nomic) Tourism?

              EGO - Tourism?

              EEK! – O -Tourism?
            OR IS IT ECOTOURISM?
Tourism with an emphasis on :

                                   ► Conservation

                                   ► Community

                                   ► Sustainability
  Ecotourists are made, not born
           It’s Cool To Be Green
•Care about your                        ►   Pass it on.
surroundings.                               Teach others what you know.

•Keep waste to a minimum                ►   Practice what you
(don’t use styrofoam or plastic             preach.
dishes, turn off the lights and water
                                            If conservation is your message
and do anything you can to reduce
                                            make sure your business or
                                            organization is backing it up in
                                            their day to day practices.
(and buy recycled products)             ►   Never stop learning.
                                            Seek new ways to lessen your
•Compost.                                   impact.
    It is considered very posh to have a green label on your organization. We joined the
Belize Ecotourism Association. This also serves as a reminder to us that we have to practice
  what we preach so the focus is not only to attract ecotourists to the garden, but to keep
              ourselves aware of things we can to increase our own ecopractices.

  People who don’t know anything about conservation, biodiversity or even why
   they should know about these things can be shown why it is important and
  how they can become ecotourists and also ecocitizens. We need to stress
  the importance of good ecopractices all of the time, not just on vacation.
  And what better place to convey the message than in a Botanic Garden?

               Not Natural!?
To encourage ecotourists to visit emphasize:
                      •Your garden’s involvement with the

                      •How botanic gardens contribute to
                      biodiversity protection
                      •How visitors can explore native
                      botanic beauty within a small area and
                      with minimal impact

                      •Conservation and education
                      projects at your garden
Shopping List for the Ecotourist
        Destination :

       Fair trade

       Sustainably grown

       Locally grown or produced

       Organically grown
        Ecotourism in Action

Each morning Belizean guide, Philip Mai, shares
his knowledge of local birds and natural history
with visitors to duPlooy’s Jungle Lodge. Sharing
of information engenders appreciation. The
more we know about the natural world the more
we are likely to want to protect it.
                Keep employees
                and volunteers
Conservation    informed.
Cooperation    ►They can teach
                others about
                conservation issues
               ►Explain how
                conservation relates
                to the garden
               ►Teach others how to
                conservation efforts
                in their daily life
                  Birds, Birders and Birdwatchers

As Belize Botanic Gardens grows, so does our bird population. There is now a count of
   just under 300 species within a five mile radius. (see for a
   complete list) A great number of ecotourists are birders or wannabees so we have
   one of the best bird guides in the country on our staff.

There are new species moving in each year as trees grow larger for nesting, and more
   food is available. Birds show their appreciation by helping to eat insects that may
   want to make us part of their dinner.

By not using chemicals at Belize Botanic Gardens, we have shown that it is possible for
   nature to achieve its own balance even with human encroachment.
BBG Birding
       Marketing – we have to do it

Good Marketing Tools

Everyone doesn’t have a jungle lodge, but I strongly suggest links with nearby hotels as this
   can be a good source of business. Encourage owners, managers, front desk personnel
    and guides to visit. Front desk people will send you the most business so treat them
   well – remember, as we say in Belize “han wash had”.

Distribute flyers and brochures locally and give passes for tours and entrances to encourage
    people to bring family and friends to the garden.

Hold periodic workshops for tour operators and guides to encourage them to bring visitors
  to the garden.

Sell logo items in your gift shop – not tacky ones, remember gardens are very posh - and
  try to sell things made locally as much as possible. Those ecotourists like that.
                   Making Money – the crass part of sustainability
Since transportation to Belize Botanic Gardens is expensive and most of our children are very poor, we
    will soon be starting to ask all visitors to contribute 25 cents to a transportation fund. This will
    enable us to bring more school children to the garden. Children spend an entire day with us and go
    home with a plant or craft item they have made from materials found in the garden

A self-guided tour booklet, written and published by volunteer Pippa Lacey and updated by volunteer
    Brett Adams lists about 65 plants and their uses is a popular seller. It is simply printed in black and
    white and costs about 50 cents to print, selling for $7.50. We have sold about 3000 since the first
    printing in 2000, so it is a continuous source of small income. People tend to buy it even if they are
    on a guided walk or buggy ride.

Currently we are testing recipes using garden products. These will be distributed with tree sales, made
   into a cookbook and products sold in the gift shop. We will then be able to purchase small amounts of
    fruit from people who have purchased our trees and use this to make jams, jellies, chutneys, etc.
  Later we will conduct workshops on non-timber products. Unfortunately, we cannot risk buying
    consumable products from individuals.

Another fund raising project is a donations tree. This is painted on a big board and, according to
    amounts donated, a toucan, butterfly or leaf is awarded and hung on the tree.
Guided Horse and Buggy Tours
Grass Cutter, Fertilizers, Transportation Experts Bob and Nickel Help With

►   To convey people who are unable to or don’t want to walk around the garden, we have enlisted the aid of Bob and
    Nickel to pull an 8-passenger buggy made by members of a local Mennonite Community. This is the traditional type
    vehicle still used to carry produce to market and has proven to be a very popular way to convey people around the
    garden. Hopefully the demand will necessitate the addition of more buggies in the near future. This vehicle is
    maintenance-free and in their spare time Bob and Nickel cut grass and produce organic fertilizer to add to the

►   A display and tasting of tropical fruits has been very popular with both young and old so we will expand on this for
    next season.

►   Recently Belize Botanic Gardens has added an internet center, lab, classroom and volunteers’ apartment so we will be
    able to broaden our education programs. A weekly lecture series is in the works and classes in ethnobotany,
    permaculture and orchids of Belize are planned for the near future and our hope is to evolve, combining duPlooy’s
    Jungle Lodge with Belize Botanic Gardens, into primarily an education and research facility.

►   A Visitors’ Center is planned, using the rammed earth method of construction with a pond sewage treatment area.
    How to do information will be made available as this will serve as a demonstration area.

►   There are plans and there are dreams. One of the dreams is to produce our own fuel from plants and to encourage
    others to produce alternate fuels.
Students learn about locally
      available fruit

Involving BBG with :

•Local Farmers
•International Organizations
•National NGO’s
•Local Community

►   Belize Botanic Gardens is presently experimenting with several species of Chamaedorea
    palms which are widely used as foliage in the floral industry. This involves test plots,
    growing seedlings for farmers, educating them and later helping find direct organic
    markets for these and other agro-forestry crops. We are working with farmers from a
    nearby village who have agreed to hold some of their uncleared land for agro-forestry
    projects. This sort of project is of great interest to ecotourists who love to hear how you
    are helping the local community; but more important, this is a real project which helps
    small farmers to earn a living wage without destroying forests.

►   If processing of Xate and other crops can be done right in the village, middle men can be
    eliminated and the majority of the income will go directly into the community.

►   Our partner in this Darwin Initiative is the British Natural History Museum whose
    scientists are conducting field studies in the forest. It is partnerships such as this which
    really make things happen.

►   Belize Botanic Gardens is seeking partners for other projects and will expand as it
    becomes economically feasible.
A local Garifuna drum and dance ensemble

                                           Belize has many cultures