After being danger-listed in 2009, the Belize Barrier Reef Reserve System (BBRRS) has been removed from the UNESCO World Heritage Center list of World Heritage in Danger on Tuesday, June 26th. This decision was made by the World Heritage Committee (WHC) during their 42nd annual meeting, currently taking place in Manama, Bahrain.
The BBRRS was inscribed on the list in danger due to a number of threats, including unsustainable tourism development on many islands and cayes within the site. The news of possible oil and gas activities further loomed as threats to the site’s fragile ecosystem, due to concessions granted within the marine ecosystem.
The WHC considered the recent safeguarding measures taken by Belize in making this historic decision for Belize’s Barrier Reef, the second largest in the world. The introduction of a moratorium on oil exploration along the entire maritime zone of the country in December of 2017, and the recent strengthening of forestry regulations for better protection of mangroves contributed to the removal of the site from the in danger list.
The Belizean reef system first joined the World Heritage List in 1996. It is an outstanding natural system consisting of the largest barrier reef in the northern hemisphere, offshore atolls, several hundred sand cayes, mangrove forests, coastal lagoons and estuaries. The BBRRS is being considered a significant habitat for threatened species, including the marine turtle, the West Indian manatee and the American marine crocodile.
Belize’s delegation to the WHC meeting is being led by Deputy Prime Minister, Honourable Patrick Faber and the Minister of Environment, Honourable Omar Figueroa. The WHC annual meeting continues until July 4, 2018, and it is expected that some of the major topics on the agenda include the natural wealth of Belize.
San Pedro Sun
Re: Belize Barrier Reef off UNESCO’S In-Danger list
#531126 06/27/1803:48 AM06/27/1803:48 AM
Tonight, it's official, the Belize Barrier Reef Reserve System has officially been removed from the UNESCO World Heritage Center List of World Heritage in Danger. The matter was heard today in Bahrain by the World Heritage Committee.
Belize first went on the list in 2009 when there were myriad concerns including offshore oil concession blocks granted for areas adjacent to the reef system. But, since then Belize had made smart state-level decisions to protect the reef.
Deputy Prime Minister Patrick Faber heads the delegation to Bahrain, and courtesy the Ambergris Today crew, here are his remarks when the decision was made:..
Hon. Patrick Faber, Deputy Prime Minister "We are pleased to say that we have met and surpassed the requirements and can now boasts leading the way in several regards. A small and vulnerable developing country as we are we have gone beyond most global targets set. Belize natural resources both terrestrial and marine are constantly being pillage by the incursions from neighboring countries. We call on the support of the international community and partners to assist us where possible in our efforts."
As you saw, Faber is accompanied by the Minister of Environment, Dr. Omar Figueroa.
The Belize Barrier Reef Reserve System comprises seven protected areas along the largest barrier reef in the northern hemisphere. The Barrier Reef and its various attractions were inscribed as a UNESCO World Heritage site in 1996. Kudos for the government came from the World Wildlife Fund which nots that its removal from the list came through, quote, "a recent series of landmark conservation measures enacted by Belize's government" and that the, quote "Incredible turnaround is the result of collaborative action between the government, UNESCO and civil society."
Their release notes, quote, "A landmark moratorium on oil exploration in Belizean waters was adopted in December 2017, making Belize one of only three countries in the world with such legislation."
The Coalition to save our Natural Heritage says, quote, "Nearly 200,000 Belizeans are estimated to rely on the reef for survival. And 15 percent of the country's gross domestic product comes from the reef-including about $15 million from the commercial fishing industry and about $200 million from tourism activities."
How the Belize Barrier Reef Beat the Endangered List
An oil drilling moratorium, development restrictions and fishing reform has helped the 200-mile-reef come off Unesco’s endangered world heritage sites list
This week Unesco, the United Nation’s scientific and cultural agency, removed the Belize Barrier Reef Reserve System, part of the 600-mile long MesoAmerican Reef System, the world’s second largest, from its list of endangered world heritage sites. And, surprisingly, it’s not because the reef is so degraded or damaged that it can’t be saved. The BBC reports that instead, after a decade of “visionary” work to protect the reef, Unesco believes it’s safe for the time being.
According to a press release, the roughly 200-mile-long reef was inscribed as a World Heritage Site in 1996, but in 2009, due to a spate of threats, it was added to the agency’s endangered list. In particular, the possibility of offshore oil drilling near the reef, the rapid destruction of mangrove forests and coastal development all threatened to degrade the reef system, which in addition to being part of the largest reef in the northern hemisphere, is also home to threatened species including sea turtles, manatees and crocodiles.
Tryggvi Adalbjornsson at The New York Times reports that the reef was struck from the list because, at least for now, all of those threats have abated. “In the last two years, especially in the last year, the government of Belize really has made a transformational shift,” says Fanny Douvere, coordinator of Unesco’s marine program.
Click here to read the rest of the article in the Smithsonian Magazine
Belize Barrier Reef Reserve System - delisted from the UNESCO's list