Moved off 'threatened' list after years of conservation work
After nine years on the list of endangered World Heritage Sites, UNESCO has officially removed the Belize Barrier Reef, thanks to a series of conservation measures enacted by the Belizean government.
In December 2017, the country agreed to put an end to oil exploration activities in its waters and began to secure the region against immediate threats—a critical step towards protecting the reef, its species, and the people who rely on it.
Like most developing countries, Belize depends on its natural resources for its economy. Oil constitutes more than a quarter of its exports. However, thanks to grassroots campaigns, Belizeans were convinced that protecting its coral reefs would be more important to the country, economically, in the long-term.
Reef-based tourism and recreational activities provide a vital source of income and account for an estimated $200 million of Belize’s GDP, while commercial fishing contributes about $15 million. The reef also provides important natural protection against damages from extreme storms along the coast.
The historic decision came during a recent World Heritage Committee meeting in Bahrain.
These developments are all thanks to the visionary steps that Belize has taken to preserve the reef. Every contribution counts towards the conservation of the reef, and this includes the efforts of our volunteers. Every beach clean-up, every marine life survey and every community awareness campaign has played a role in this significant development, and set a precedent for others to follow.
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