Belize Barrier Reef removed from in danger list

Belize Barrier Reef has been removed from UNESCO’s List of World Heritage in Danger. One of the world’s most diverse ecosystems, the reef has received critical government protection.

UNESCO has declared one of the world’s most diverse ecosystems to no longer be in danger of irreversible damage.

The Belize Barrier Reef Reserve System World Heritage site had been inscribed on UNESCO’s In Danger list for almost a decade, facing threats from harmful coastal construction and oil exploration, as well as the absence of a solid regulatory framework.

Over the last eighteen months, Belize’s government has put in place the necessary protections to secure the Belize Barrier Reef from immediate threats, according to a statement from WWF.

“We have seen an incredible turnaround from when the reef was being threatened by seismic testing for oil just eighteen months ago,” commented Marco Lambertini, Director General of WWF-International.

He added: “Belizeans stood up to protect their reef, with hundreds of thousands more globally joining the campaign to save our shared heritage. In taking swift collaborative action, Belize has shown that it is possible to reverse nature loss and create a sustainable future.”

Measures put in place include a landmark moratorium on oil exploration in Belizean waters, critical regulations to protect the country’s mangroves, and commitment to legislate the current voluntary moratorium on selling the public lands within the World Heritage site.

As recently as 2016, the reef, which is home to hundreds of species, faced threats from seismic testing for oil, which was permitted just 10 kilometres from the site.

Lambertini concluded: “The journey of Belize’s removal from the in danger list shows that when governments, international institutions and civil society work together, it is possible to avoid harmful activities that threaten our planet’s unique places in favour of sustainable alternatives that will secure a prosperous future for all.”

Photo credit: dronepicr/ CC BY 2.0

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