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.
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.