They MEAN well, but they’re wrecking Belize, which is an unforgettable mix of tropical waterfalls, ancient Mayan ruins and deep limestone caves. It’s one of the world’s most popular destinations for ecotourists. Researcher Peter Kumble is working with the Belize government to limit the environmental impact of ecotourism on these sensitive natural wonders.

According to Kumble, one of the main things that ecotourists need to remember is how fragile these lush, tropical sites can be. He says, “On a recent trek through underground caverns, which required swimming into the entrance, my students and I were asked to wear socks when we came out of the water. Just the oils on our feet would have been enough to coat the rocks and prevent stalagmites and stalactites from growing on their surface.”

There is also the problem of theft. Kumble says, “The Mayans viewed the caves as a connection to the underworld, and left offerings of pottery, food and human sacrifice. In some locations it is fairly easy for a tourist to pick up a shard of pottery and take it home, not realizing that they are disturbing an important archaeological site.”

Art credit: Peter Krumble

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