GAÏA Riverlodge is one of Belize’s most celebrated eco-tourist destinations situated in the scenic Mountain Pine Ridge Forest Reserve. Inspired by the beauty of nature, the resort with its beautifully landscaped gardens filled with indigenous bushes, trees, and flowers overlooks spectacular waterfalls located right on the grounds of the property.
Green Globe congratulates GAÏA Riverlodge, and property owner Daniel Lighter, on its recent recertification for the second consecutive year.
Nigel Richards, General Manager at GAÏA Riverlodge said, “Sustainability should be inherent in human behavior. If we embrace this concept as a way of life, the well being of our natural and cultural heritage will be guaranteed for the future. It is important to protect both the tangible and intangible resources.”
Last year, the property focused on numerous ecological and community initiatives. Perhaps, one of the most important projects for GAÏA Riverlodge was its continued contribution to biological research in the Belize area. GAÏA assisted with a collaborated effort between the New York Botanical Garden and BFREE (Belize Foundation for Research and Environmental Education) by allowing them to conduct studies of the vegetation on its property and gather specimens in search of new species.
Dr Robert Naczi, Curator of North American Botany at the Botanical Gardens in New York has been conducting his research on sedges. Sedges are grass-like plants that grow abundantly in Belize and provide food and nesting sites for many wildlife species. A few years ago, Dr Naczi discovered a sedge on the property that was new to science and named it Rhvnchospora marliniana. This significant discovery highlights the uniqueness of Belizean biodiversity and ensures its conservation.
GAÏA Riverlodge has its own organic vegetable garden and faces the constant challenge of dealing with pests. GAÏA has implemented different practices in an effort to have the most environmentally friendly approach in this battle. This includes an organically made repellent which is prepared by GAÏA’s own gardener by blending a mixture of habanero peppers, garlic and onions together. Water is then added and three days after fermentation has occurred, the repellent is sprayed directly onto plants to fight off eating insects.
Another eco-friendly method utilized by the property is companion planting, the practice of planting symbiotic plants in close proximity to one another. Mary Gold Flowers are planted throughout the garden as a pest control mechanism. They naturally help to repel white flies and are normally planted, in disguise, in tomato beds where the leaves of both plants are almost matching. Corn and cabbage are also strategically planted together in a bed as a biological pest control strategy. Moths often lay their eggs on the cabbage crops, and as a result the eggs turn into a worm like larvae. However, corn stalks also carry a very small insect that in turn feed on the larvae produced on the cabbage.
GAÏA uses scarecrows, fake snakes and fishing line grids approximately 7 feet high to deal with birds and small animals in the vegetable garden. They have all been cleverly adapted to incorporate recycled compact discs that scare birds away. Also, among the scarecrows is a large artificial bird of prey that prevents smaller animals from interfering with crops.
Guests enjoyed an intimate fun filled dinner by candlelight with drinks shaken, not blended and served in a coconut shell by wait staff utilizing torches for illumination during Earth Hour celebrations. The property participates annually in Earth Hour by turning off lights and electricity at night. In addition, in late April, a general cleanup campaign was organized in celebration of Earth Hour. Altogether four properties including GAÏA Riverlodge pooled resources to do a clean up in the Mountain Pine Ridge Forest Reserve leading all the way to Caracol archaeological site. Guests from GAÏA, tourists and tour operators frequently visit the area whilst travelling to Caracol.
As part of its social initiatives, GAÏA Riverlodge has recently started to offer guests the opportunity to visit the San Antonia Village Women’s Group in a Mayan community nearby. Led by Ms Timotea Mesh the group’s main goal is to promote the preservation of Mayan culture. As part of their presentation the group demonstrate how food such as corn tortilla, caldo and bollo were traditionally prepared in the past and how they are cooked in the present day. Traditional Mayan attire and traditional ways of making pottery are also shown.
PO Box 173
fax 011-501-223 0002