Spring Break and the Mesoamerican Reef

How does Spring Break in Cancun impact the Mesoamerican Reef?  This is exactly what I am learning as I delve into the programmatic work of Centro Ecologico Akumal.  http://ceakumal.org/index_es.php I am beginning to better understand the environmental impact and tradeoffs of economic gains from tourism on the Mesoamerican Reef.

Akumal Beach, home of Centro Ecologico Akumal

Akumal Beach, home of Centro Ecologico Akumal

Vibrant coral reefs, Caribbean waters, Mayan civilizations,  and tropical beaches are Mexico’s products.  Sold as a vacation package, they fuel tourism and urban growth at unprecedented rates.   However, unsustainable tourism and urban development growth threaten costal eco-systems and long term sustainability of the region.  With the approval of urban development in Akumal and Tulum by the state government, population growth is expected to rise to 200,000 and 150,000 respectively by 2030 according to some reports.  It is integral that key stakeholders with the reach to influence change utilize this opportunity prior to development to ensure that sustainable watershed methods are in place ensuring longevity and livelyhood of not only the Mesoamerican reef, but also for the tourism economy in the region.

It is important to develop a Watershed Committee of Tulum that will identify and implement waste management strategies in accordance to framework established by the Conservation Action Plan for the area.   With support from the Mexican National Water Commission, Centro Ecológico Akumal is uniquely placed to lead and establish watershed treatment technologies to reduce contaminants on the Meso American Reef, the largest threat to the Reef’s long term sustainability and primary natural resource driving the tourism economy in the region.     The Watershed Committee project of Tulum if implemented at this stage of urban and tourism development in the region could positively impact and preserve the long term sustainability of the Mesoamerican Reef and ensure continued growth for the subsequent tourism sector and economy in the region.

One of several programs at Centro Ecologico Akumal is their Water Quality program. The Water Quality Program at Akumal reduces pollution of watershed by encouraging key alliances and cooperation between the public and private sectors to ensure best practices in management of solid and liquid tailing.  The program utilizes alternative technologies that promote sustainable development in the region.

Watershed management is a primary programmatic focus of Centro Ecologico Akumal which is tailored to the unique geological porous limestone bedrock of the Yucatan Peninsula.  Bedrock easily allows contaminants to enter the aquifer which without proper waste management poses a direct threat to the Mesoamerican Reef System and is health risk to both the community and the environment.  Existing Water Quality program goals and experience qualify Cento Akumal Ecologico to lead stakeholders and community members with not only technical expertise, but also long term sustainability.

Centro Ecologico Akumal  is a Mexican non-governmental organization with more than 11 years of successful environmental programs and policy impact.   A leader in their field, CEA has a proven track record of building models for sustainable tourism development in the Mexican Caribbean through research, education and outreach.  Currently, Centro Ecológico Akumal (CEA), is leading the way to test and promote the changes necessary in marine tourism practices, sea turtle protection and waste water management for creating replicable models for sustainability in Quintana Roo and beyond in the Caribbean basin.

This entry was posted in Tanilee Eichelberger (Yucatán, Mexico) on by .

About Tanilee Eichelberger

Tanilee specializes in creating project budgets, auditable tracking systems, grant fund accounting, and project management. She brings eight years of accounting and business experience to her work. A UCLA graduate with distinct honors, she is currently Finance Grant Manager at TechSoup Global. Concurrently, she is attending the Monterey Institute of International Studies to complete a Masters of Public Administration in International Management. Her concentration is in Human Rights Advocacy in Latin America and the Caribbean for vulnerable communities including women, children and Afro-latinos. She is the recipient of numerous scholarships including the Emma B Keller Fine Arts Scholarship, and a fully funded scholarship recipient to attend the Monterey Institute of International Studies, a school of MiddleBury. Tanilee is fluent in Spanish and English and looks forward to learning Brazilian Portuguese. In her spare time, she enjoys performing samba in the San Francisco Bay Area with her samba group "Amor Do Samba", and designing and creating samba costumes for her shows.

9 thoughts on “Spring Break and the Mesoamerican Reef

  1. Jessica Bradish

    Tanilee,

    This is a really interesting project! Thanks for posting another English-language entry (French is not as helpful of a second language as I thought it would be in middle school 😛 ). It seems like you’re running into the same natural resource management issues that we discuss in my Environmental Policy conservation and environmental economics classes. And a lot of the Center for the Blue Economy Fellows are working on similar marine and coastal issues.

    I can’t believe that picture is real – it’s so vibrant it seems like technicolor! Hope you enjoy the beauty of your summer… because I’m a weirdo nature is always tinged with the sadness of its future possible demise for me. 😉

    Look forward to updates on how to get sustainable development buy-in from local stakeholders!

    Reply
  2. Tanilee Eichelberger Post author

    Hello, Jessica!

    My apologies for the delay in response. I am happy to hear that the Blue Economy Fellows are working to improve Natural Resource Management, as it is a critical priority within Conservation and Environmental Policy, and especially specific to Marine and Costal Eco-systems.

    Regarding local community buy in, one of the most recent developments is in producing a unique identity for Akumal which revolves around a “sustainable” eco-tourist destination to set it apart from Cancun, or Tulum. With this brand, the hope is that the community will support eco-tourism best practices which would in term reduce environmental contaminants. One of several strategies they are working on and part of my work with them. The other is to produce a corporate social responsibility/ eco-tourism certification that business can adhere to, to support long term environmental sustainability.

    Look forward to following your blog post to learn from the Blue Economy Fellows Program!

    P.S…Re: the pic, I don’t post anything on the net without increasing saturation minimally. But the pic it’self, is real. 🙂

    Reply
  3. Rebecca Walters

    Hi Tanilee,

    Awesome! Just remember that we want to include the links in the text. Check out the changes I made to your recent posts and let me know if you can figure out how to do this.

    Thanks so much for writing great blog posts!

    Rebecca

    Reply
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    ning into the same natural resource management issues that we discuss in my Environmental Policy conservation and environmental economics classes. And a lot of the Center for the Blue Economy Fellows are working on similar marine and coastal issues.
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    I can’t believe that picture is real – it’s so vibrant it seems like technicolor! Hope you enjoy the beauty of your summer… because I’m a weirdo nature is always tinged with the sadness of its future possible demise for me.

    Reply

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