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#500293 - 01/24/15 10:27 AM Will Belize Be Removed From UNESCO Danger List?
Marty Offline

Fanny Douvere

But has the government put in place measures to maintain the integrity of the ecosystem? According to Doctor Fanny Douvere, there has been some improvement, but there are three to five issues that need to be addressed over the course of the coming years. If the necessary policies are put in place in a socioeconomic, but environmentally friend way, the Belize Barrier Reef could be removed from the danger list. 

Dr. Fanny Douvere, Coordinator, Marine Program, UNESCO World Heritage Center

“I believe strongly and we’ve confirmed with the various government officials that it is not necessary to wait too long. I think there is a lot of capacity in the country, there is a lot of excellent expertise in the country and it is certainly possible to take the decisions that need to be taken. Some of the targets might require a little bit of additional expertise so we are trying to provide a little bit more time for those. We are still in the middle of discussing with the government the actual feasible time frame, but we are not looking at another five years on the danger list. I think that’s likely not necessary; I think all the potential is there to make that shorter. What it is that we are really trying to do is to work with the county as constructive as we can and that has been going very constructive here to try to find a solution that works both socioeconomically and environmentally. So we have heard the N.G.O.s, we have talked to them throughout the week, but we are not N.G.O.s so we might have different opinions over different components when it comes to some of the critical points that we on the side of UNESCO really feel are crucial important to get off the danger list. Now in response to your first question—whether there is positive trends—the answer is definitely yes. We originally when we were here in 2009, we had invasive species on the list. We were at the time very concerned apart from the other issues about lionfish and the way it was dealt with and the way it potentially had an impact on the ecosystem. And that is something that’s very well taken into account and that is today is something that is not really part of our concerns that are still remaining. So there are very positive trends and positive strides forward. Also for example with the integrated Coastal Zone Management Plans which we understand are now about to be approved. So we see this, this is very marked progress from the situation that it was in 2009.”

There are still some more meetings by the UNESCO technical team before it leaves the country. The last visit by UNESCO was back in 2013.

UNESCO Experts in Belize

Since Monday, a team of experts from the UNESCO World Heritage Center has been in Belize on a technical mission. For five years, since June 2009, the Belize Barrier Reef Marine System has been under the threat of delisting as a World Heritage Site.  So the team has been here to assist the government of Belize to get the prestigious barrier reef off the list. Throughout the week, the UNESCO reps have been meeting with government agencies and environmental groups discussing a roadmap to maintain the integrity of the ecosystem. The mission also looked at the impact tourism has on the reef, says Coordinator for UNESCO’s Marine Program, Doctor Fanny Douvere.

Dr. Fanny Douvere, Coordinator, Marine Program, UNESCO World Heritage Center

“It’s a very complex ecosystem. That’s the same anywhere in the world when it comes to large coral reef systems. Belize barrier reef is the second largest in the world so it is a phenomenal place, but it is also complex to manage. In addition to that we are also working in a very socioeconomic context that is very important. It is important to understand also that there are a lot of jobs created from the Belize barrier reef system which are crucially important for the country and the Belizean people. So what is challenging is to bring all those various perspectives together and to design a roadmap that works both from a socioeconomic perspective, but also from an environmental perspective. So we actually had very constructive discussions this week and we are very hopeful and very optimistic that we can find a suitable solution that works for us all.”

Channel 5


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#500394 - 01/27/15 06:37 PM Re: Will Belize Be Removed From UNESCO Danger List? [Re: Marty]
Marty Offline

Will the Belize Barrier Reef be removed from UNESCO’s danger list?

The debate over offshore drilling in Belize has resurfaced, and the Ministry of Energy, Science and Technology and Public Utilities (MESTPU) issued a statement on Friday asserting that “none of [the] World Heritage Site properties [in Belize] are currently under any oil concession.”

It added that the Government of Belize will maintain the moratorium on the issuance of new offshore petroleum concessions until a comprehensive offshore petroleum policy is developed and accepted by the Government of Belize.

Meanwhile, Dr. Fanny Douvere, who heads the UNESCO World Heritage Center’s marine program, told journalists Friday that UNESCO has a number of critical concerns – among them are the sale and the leasing of lands within the property and especially the cutting of the mangroves.

As we reported last week, UNESCO had listed oil exploration as one of the main threats to the World Heritage Site – the Belize Barrier Reef System – and the site was listed back in 2009 as one of several such sites in danger.

“Management challenges and threats that impact on the integrity of the property include: overharvesting of marine resources, coastal development, tourism, industrial development and proposed oil and gas exploration and exploitation,” UNESCO says.

Douvere told 7 News that, “Our primary purpose is to work together with the Government and set a number of clear targets that would need to be achieved in order to get the Belize Barrier Reef Reserve System back off the danger list.”

She did not specifically address the matter of petroleum concessions. Earlier in the week, vocal NGOs in Belize had expressed concerns over the draft zonation plan being circulated by the Government of Belize, which includes the Blue Hole and much of the expanse of the Belize Barrier Reef—the largest in the Western Hemisphere and the second largest in the world—in zones that could be included in oil exploration zones.

The Ministry notes, though, that back in 2013, it had “successfully negotiated with Princess Petroleum for a relinquishment of more than their 25% required under their contract in an effort to ensure that the Blue Hole and other areas of Lighthouse Reef Atoll are no longer part of their active concession.”

It also said that back in 2009, when the Belize Barrier Reef System was placed on the List of World Heritage Sites in Danger, nine offshore concessions existed, but today, there are only three.

“Currently, Princess Petroleum remains the only company with a large offshore concession, while Providence Energy and BCH International have small off-shore acreages as part of their concessions…” the ministry’s release said.

“It is important to understand also that there are a lot of jobs created from the Belize Barrier Reef System which are crucially important for the country and the Belizean people. So what is challenging is to bring all those various perspectives together and to design a roadmap that works both from a socioeconomic perspective, but also from an environmental perspective,” Douvere underscored.

She said that the parties are trying to work collectively to understand the bottlenecks so that they can achieve a roadmap for moving forward.

“We are still in the middle of discussing with the government the actual feasible time frame, but we are not looking at another five years on the danger list,” she said, in an interview aired by News 5.

UNESCO says that, “The Belize Barrier Reef Reserve System (BBRRS), inscribed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1996, is comprised of seven protected areas: Bacalar Chico National Park and Marine Reserve, Blue Hole Natural Monument, Half Moon Caye Natural Monument, South Water Caye Marine Reserve, Glover’s Reef Marine Reserve, Laughing Bird Caye National Park and Sapodilla Cayes Marine Reserve.”

(UNESCO’s posting on Belize can be found here: http://whc.unesco.org/en/list/764)

Barrow tells UNESCO: no oil drilling in/near offshore reef protected areas

An official press release issued by the Government late this evening stated that, following his meeting with representatives of the UNESCO’s World Heritage Centre, Prime Minister Dean Barrow has “expressed his willingness to chart a course forward on key management requirements for a sustainable future for the reef.”

The release said, “Prime Minister Barrow confirmed the Government’s policy position to prohibit oil exploitation within and adjacent to the protected areas in the Belize Barrier Reef System.”

The declaration by the Barrow administration comes after the January 19-23, 2015, mission by UNESCO’s World Heritage Centre to Belize, in cooperation with the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN).

The parties, said the release, undertook a technical support mission to Belize with the objective of assisting the Government in its efforts to prepare a road map for the removal of the Belize Barrier Reef from the List of World Heritage Sites in Danger.

As we reported in a separate article in this edition of Amandala, the Belize Barrier Reef was placed on the List of World Heritage Sites in Danger in 2009.

Among the issues over which UNESCO has expressed concern are the sale, lease and development of mangrove islands, as well as oil development within and immediately adjacent to Belize Barrier Reef.

“The 1972 World Heritage Convention is aimed at ensuring that the exceptional values for which these sites are listed endure through government transitions so future generations can continue to enjoy them the same [way] we do today,” the Government release explains.

Amandala


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#500395 - 01/27/15 07:27 PM Re: Will Belize Be Removed From UNESCO Danger List? [Re: Marty]
Katie Valk Offline
Yes, it certainly will be removed from Unesco with Puerto Azul and project on LHR atoll
_________________________
Belize based travel specialist
www.belize-trips.com
info@belize-trips.com

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