Ecotourism, sustainable tourism...no matter how you say it, to us it means practicing responsible tourism and that means protecting our environment and local communities so that the "Jewel" we call Belize will be here for future generations to enjoy. At Sweet Songs Jungle Lodge, we are passionate about preserving the abundant resources that make Belize so special.
We continually strive to keep our negative impact on the environment to a minimum, doing what we can to preserve the environment in a way so that Belizeans can continue to gain employment in Belize's ecotourism industry and visitors can continue to be enchanted by Belize for years to come.
OUR GOAL is to provide you with a unique experience in a natural setting and to transform your vacation into an adventure that will educate, inspire, and energize you, while minimizing ours - and your - impact on the environment.
We use local foods wherever possible and buy imported food items from local suppliers to support our belief that buying as close to home as possible is the best. Local farmers have responded positively to the growing demands of the tourism industry and continue expanding their offerings at the local market. Many of them are now working toward organic growing, starting with pesticide-free produce. Many of our guests take the opportunity to visit the local market in San Ignacio Town.
We purchase organic eggs and organic or free range chicken for our restaurant and organic vegetables whenever possible. We have chosen not to grow our own vegetables, as we believe that supporting local farmers and encouraging them to switch to organic growing is important. Sweet Songs and Belize Botanic Gardens have been organic properties since 1988. (We do admit to using chemical warfare on termites so that they don’t eat your room)
We only serve soft drink and beer products that come in recyclable containers. Our apologies to diet-soft-drink drinkers, as diet drinks in Belize only come in plastic, non-recyclable containers. We invite you to try one of our exotic seasonal juices such as: Tamarind, Sorrel, Sour Sop, Carambola, and Watermelon. At the Canopy Bar, you won't find plastic straws or paper napkins, as we use only cloth napkins and a special pasta noodle for straws. You may find our pasta straws a bit odd at first, however they work just as well as traditional straws and are good to chew on and biodegradable as well.
Composting & Recycling
Vegetable matter is put in the compost bin and used on the grounds. Bottles are donated to local producers to be used for honey, hot sauce, etc.
Buildings at Sweet Songs, with only a few exceptions, are roofed with tile instead of thatch. Though picturesque, the palm leaf gathered to make thatch is normally harvested from the wild and not replanted. This unsustainable collecting practice endangers the population of this palm.
There is a section within the Botanic Gardens containing over 1000 bay-leaf palms, which we use for thatching on the property. It's Interesting to note that it is common practice to harvest within 7 days after the full moon because during this time natural pesticides are released, making the roof more resistent to insect damage.
Plant Conservation & Education
Our largest conservation endeavor is the 45 acre Belize Botanical Garden, located adjacent to Sweet Songs Jungle Lodge.
The Palm Display and the Maya House, located within the botanic gardens, are funded by the International Palm Society. These displays are used for educational purposes, showing the many uses of palms and their importance to Belizean life and the need to protect our native species from unsustainable harvest.
Palm & Cycad collections are carried out with our partner, Montgomery Botanical Center in Florida and have resulted in a formerly undescribed cycad, found in a sinkhole in Southern Belize.
BBG's "Grow Native" program, funded by the Stanley Smith Horticultural Trust, encourages the use of native plants in landscaping and introduces local school children to the gardens and the practice of conserving Belizean plants.
Through a Darwin Initiative Funding in conjunction with Edinburgh University, we have created a Savannah Trail which demonstrates the importance of this rapidly disappearing habitat.
Rainforest Conservation Project is about preserving the Rainforest and with the support and project funding from Moody Gardens we have designated 37 acres for trails and scientific research only. Visitors can access the Hiking Trails from the lodge and enjoy a rich rainforest experience.
March, 2012 marked the opening of a job skills training program at BBG in professional gardening and a course for beginning birdwatching. This 34-month Professional Gardeners' Program was funded by the European Union and was free to Belizeans who wish to pursue a career in gardening. Of the 109 students taking part in the program, 79 secured employment. Part of the European Union funding was also used to teach an introductory bird and plant identification course. Courses are currently being offered in shorter segments and open to anyone.
School Children & University Students regularly visit the gardens for educational field trips . Thanks to the donation of a school bus by Sonny Merryman Bus Company in Virginia, we are able to host a greater number of local school children.
Completed projects include a three year study of several species of palms which are used as foliage in the floral industry worldwide. These palms are currently being unsustainably harvested in the wild. Our studies through a Darwin Initiative and our partner the British Natural History Museum, determined that these palms can be grown under cultivation as well as be harvested sustain-ably. Belize Botanic Gardens role in this project was to research the cultivation of these palms and educate and inform local farmers.
Sustainable practices to follow:
Electricity is produced by a combination of solar power and diesel generator. When electricity use is at its peak or there is no sunshine, the generator goes on. Help us by unplugging your electronic devices when they are charged and by turning off lights and fans when you leave the room.
Saving Water: Saving water if very important. If your bath towels are fresh enough to use again, just hang them up. If you want fresh ones, just toss them on the floor and we’ll replace them for you.
Water Bottles: We provide a complimentary water bottle to each guest upon arrival. At Sweet Songs, we don’t sell water by the bottle; however, there are water stations at the Canopy Bar and inside the front office where you can refill.
Plastics: Remove items from plastic packages before you arrive. Belize now has recycling at the local dump; however, that is not a reason to add to the load. Bring a market bag to use for purchases you may make so that you will not have an accumulation of plastic bags.
Batteries: Use rechargeable batteries if possible. If not, then pack them out when they are finished, as Belize does not currently have a recycling program for batteries or electronics.
We work hard to be Belize's Premier Nature Lodge. This is a constant learning process, so if you have any ideas to share, let us know what you think!