Belize Barrier Reef Reserve System is no longer on UNESCO’s endangered list.
It is a time for celebration! On Tuesday, UNESCO, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization, officially removed the Belize Barrier Reef Reserve System from its list of endangered world heritage sites. This is a big deal, as the Belize Barrier Reef is the world’s second-largest reef system in the world. It was deemed a World Heritage Site in 1996 but subsequently placed on the endangered list in 2009. This was due to the degradation of the reef system caused by the destruction of mangrove forests, harmful fishing practices, pollution, coastal development and the possibility of offshore drilling.
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Luckily, with the brave efforts of conservation organizations and the support of the public culminated in success. Many strides have been made to combat threats to the environment in Belize. Moreover, the Supreme Court of Belize has ruled that oil contracts were illegal. This lead to a formal policy to ban offshore oil drilling. This includes the seven marine parks that make up the Belize Barrier Reef Reserve was mandated. Efforts to regulate the cutting of mangroves, as well as plans to ban all single-use plastics, support the lifting of Belize from the endangered list.
There are many challenges the reef and by extension the health of marine life still face. There is still much work to be done. Increased cruise-ship tourism and development, lionfish decimating other tropical species, pollution runoff and of course coral bleaching are still dangers.
However, like the milestone of being taken off the endangered world heritage site list, there is always hope that one day there will be no threat too great that cannot be combated and overcome.
Congratulations to everyone that had a hand in making this special moment possible!
Written by CC+L editorial team
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