About Belize Open Source - Sustainable Development

Belize Open Source - Sustainable Development is intended to be a vehicle for interested people to collaborate for the following primary objectives and purposes. We are incorporated in California and our application for tax-exempt 501 (c) (3) status has been approved by the IRS.

  • Kathy Voth is Chief Executive Officer/President. She’s worked with the Bureau of Land Management in education, communication, and research. She runs the livestockforlandscapes.com website and On Pasture and pursues her goal of helping communities find ways to live sustainably in their environment.
  • Ruth White is Secretary. Her family has worked for many years in Belize, and she takes groups of students there. See her website for the range of her activities.
  • Pat Coyle is the Chief Financial Officer/Treasurer.  He is a registered Professional and Mechanical Engineer, retired from his 32 + year career in project engineering.  He grew up on ranches in the Western US, up and down the Rocky Mountains. He is involved in day-to day interactions with contacts in Belize to initiate sustainable development and operations on the property near August Pine Ridge. Contact him at pat@coyles.com, or on his cell in the US on (925) 960-5286 in Livermore, CA.
  • Ben Bobowski is key technical advisor. He has served in a number of National Park Service roles including: Chief of Resource Stewardship with Rocky Mountain National Park, Chief of Resource Management, Grant-Kohrs Ranch National Historic Site, Montana. He has broad experience in natural resource management and educational outreach programs. He also runs a cow/calf operation in Montana.

Primary objectives and purposes:

  • promote environmentally and socially sustainable development; including, but not limited to, development and operation of a land-based learning and community outreach center and working farm (sustainable development field station) in Belize, Central America;
  • invite ongoing participation and collaboration for an open source approach to empower and work collaboratively with communities and local organizations to identify specific needs and to develop strategies to meet their basic requirements of health, education, and economic opportunity by promoting environmentally, socially, and economically sustainable solutions, with environmental stewardship, women's rights, and humanitarian protection integral to these sustainable solutions;
  • use an open source approach, based on best-in-class ideas and community of experts and world-wide talent, to plan, design, and implement an educational sustainable development field station based on the 40 acre Belize property in a way that is beneficial to the people in the local community and to people who participate at all stages of the life cycle of the project to establish it and then operate it. Includes site master planning and a phased approach to design, funding, and implementation for facilities, utilities, infrastructure and ongoing operations;
  • establish initial Belize property site management presence, facilities, and utilities with safety and environmental protection integral to all activities as a top priority. The vision for the initial outcome is that the property is set-up with a caretaker and local representatives in nearby August Pine Ridge who conduct daily operations and check in visitors or participants who come for programs. Initial minimal accommodations are in place for visiting team participants. In the near-term, improve Belize property using intensively managed goats or sheep grazing to reduce brush and clean the property in preparation for other uses. Install electrical, water, septic system, and phone/internet services. Clean area between road and initial facilities area. Build caretaker's residence, restroom/multi-purpose building, storage area, and sheep/goat shelter. Plant first 150 improved selected cashew seedlings. Fence property perimeter, yard, goat/sheep handling corrals and shelter. Put up signs identifying property and mission. Implement first increments of portable electric fenced goat/sheep grazing control zones. Gather data for clearing and stocking rates and develop experience to adjust and improve approach. Establish approaches for marketing lambs/kids, transporting animals, breeding program, etc;
  • determine area of Belize with similar kind of sandy soil as the August Pine Ridge savannah of the property for potential applicability of successful models or systems;
  • continue planning and evaluation of other potential uses as the property is cleared, considering the unique and compelling features about the property, the communities and the region. Rather than focus on a single compelling reason for an educational program on the property, consider the surrounding region and how to use it in educational and sustainable development opportunities. Brainstorm with locals about what is looking to work or emerge. List all the features and reasons and try to think outside the box;
  • consider partnering with others for cooperative uses of the adjacent wedge of land still in bush between the property and the Shipyard cutoff;
  • consider teaming with other landholders who have bogs, marshes, ponds, streams or even seasonal wetlands that it could add to the mix of assets. Water and amphibians are interesting features. In terms of ecotourism interest, some view amphibians as second behind birds. Amphibians and birds are a viewed as real assets in terms of attractions for ecotourism;
  • consider an approach with some features on the property itself - but with others out in the community for an outward outreach posture;
  • consider doing pilot projects on the property and extending them out into the community rather than institutionalizing them as permanent operations. Don't hesitate to take projects down after piloting;
  • Continue to identify other sustainable projects on and off the property that would appeal to people who want to come, learn transferable skills, do good work, and use part of their time there to jump off to other attractions in the region. Examples of potential uses to be evaluated include:
    • Permaculture and the potential applicability of teaching/internship models at the property; improved crops: improved cashew varieties for incorporation in the national program for the development of cashew; other agro-reforestation tree crops considering certified sustainable lumber, carbon sequestration benefits, nitrogen fixation, integrated multilayer cropping and goat and sheep grazing ; selected crops with high demand/value such as habenero peppers; specialty medicinal plants and herbs, other food plants; Aquaculture fish and water plants
    • Improved livestock: goat and sheep breeder and supplier, as appropriate using artificial insemination (AI) and embryo implants (EI) as alternative to importing breeding stock to upgrade local, acclimatized livestock; contract clearing or fire protection services for others using goats or sheep
    • Appropriate technologies for the property and the surrounding community; renewable energy alternatives - solar, wind, hydro, biodiesel, ethanol, bio-gas, etc; use of small-scale land use mapping with CADD, aerial photo images, and high-accuracy GPS mapping
    • Use of regional assets for educational ecotourism: nearby Mayan sites; local crafts, handwork, etc; birding, amphibians, reptiles, other wildlife
    • Training center for visitors as well as local youth and adult participation: Eco-workshop type sustainable projects; sustainable goat and sheep operations, furniture or value-added timber products, business skills, and other sustainable enterprises as they are developed and ready to deploy; perhaps incorporating broadband internet based remote learning tools. Participating schools or other entities, could develop classes or seminars where students could build on a conceptual master plan, flesh out more detailed designs consistent with master plan, or integrate other project plans at the conceptual level. Educational on-site participation could be integrated through the entire life cycle; e.g., class or independent study project as a test bed for planning, design, options evaluation, implementation, fieldwork, reporting results, etc. Coming to do a planning and design workshop, to participate in an expansion or building project, or later just to enjoy the place you had a hand in shaping and jump off to rest of Belize
    • Community involvement, training, and outreach to address and promote the sustainable socio-economic development of the communities, including sanitation, health and nutrition programs
    • Micro business development program: business training, technical assistance, loan assistance, networking, mentoring and other asset building services
    • Light-footprint ecotourism oriented accommodations: both hostel/dormitory style and individual units (such as cabanas, tent-camper units, cabins, or the small houses); with common areas for dining/lounge, conference, (with all facilities designed to accommodate persons with disabilities), etc.
  • Promote community engagement and involvement from local neighborhood, through regional, Belize, broader Central American and Caribbean;
  • Identify and select projects and programs for demonstration and implementation on the property and within the community. Work with adjacent communities to identify unmet needs and give visibility to the kinds of projects that might be of interest to other development assistance organizations (such as Engineers Without Borders (EWB), Engineers for a Better World, Trees for the Future, just to name a few of the many groups);
  • Secure funding through variety of means such as pay-as-go, participation-based fees, sponsorships, donations, endowments, or other approaches;
  • Seek cooperative teaming relationships for mutually beneficial goals with other entities such as non-profits, non-governmental organizations (NGOs); community-based, educational, corporate, or governmental organizations; individuals, or others;

The constituents and audience include: 

  • People in August Pine Ridge and larger local community who would benefit from employment through work activities associated with development of the property and subsequent operations – such as clearing, planting, building, caretaking, harvesting, etc. Additionally, benefits for local people are anticipated through their own collaborative activities such as preparing meals for visitors, hosting them in their homes, guiding visitors, selling locally produced crafts, foods, or other goods

  • People in the local community who would benefit from the programs conducted, outreach activities, application of successfully demonstrated approaches, training, access to resources and credit, and other connections

  • People who participate in the planning, design, fundraising, and implementation

  • People who participate in on-site programs, workshops, and training

  • People who visit to simply enjoy the opportunity to spend some time on a working field station as part of their time in Belize