The Belize Barrier Reef, part of the largest barrier reef in the Northern Hemisphere, provides significant habitat for threatened species such as marine turtles, manatees, Nassau grouper, and the American marine crocodile. The Belize Barrier Reef Reserve System, which includes CORAL's partner marine protected areas, has been designated as a UNESCO World Heritage site since 1996. Just this summer, though, it was added to the List of World Heritage in Danger, due to prevalent mangrove cutting and excessive development in the area.

Citizen groups have formed to oppose further unsustainable development in Belize, and CORAL's Belize Field Representative, Valentine Rosado, is working to find ways to support them. In southern Belize, concerned residents from all three communities on the Placencia Peninsula came together to form Peninsula Citizens for Sustainable Development (PCSD), which works to counter the rapid unsustainable growth and destruction of mangroves in the area. Modeled after PCSD, Ambergris Caye Citizens for Sustainable Development (ACCSD) does similar work in northern Belize. These groups have been very successful in securing support from a diverse group of stakeholders, but they are up against powerful and influential developers.

This photograph shows recently completed dredging for a new channeled subdivision sited right next to the sewage treatment ponds of San Pedro. This development has disrupted the mangrove ecosystem that served as a buffer and 'third phase' treatment for the sewage. Furthermore, there are no studies addressing the potential health risks of such development in close proximity to the sewage ponds.

Photo by Valentine Rosado

The following video, produced by ACCSD, is helping to educate the public about the harmful impacts of the proposed South Beach Development near the Hol Chan Marine Reserve. Please watch the video and help spread the word about the threats facing Belize's coral reefs!