Belize praised for ‘visionary’ steps to save coral reef

The reef, which is home to hundreds of varieties of sharks, manta rays, tropical fish and sea turtles, spent nearly a decade on the endangered list

The reef, which is home to hundreds of varieties of sharks, manta rays, tropical fish and sea turtles, spent nearly a decade on the endangered list

Unesco removed the Mesoamerican coral reef in Belize from its list of threatened World Heritage Sites this week, saying the Central American country had taken “visionary” steps to protect it.

The reef, which is the second biggest in the world after the Great Barrier Reef in Australia, has spent almost 10 years on the endangered list. Though it is home to hundreds of varieties of tropical fish, manta rays, sharks, sea turtles and many more species, Belize had planned to allow oil exploration nearby.

The level of conservation we hoped for has been achieved

‘Unchecked’ on-shore construction and a general lack of legislation to protect the site were criticised in the past. But now Unesco has praised the country for taking action to reverse the trend: the Belize government has since imposed a moratorium on oil exploration around the reef and implemented protections for coastal mangrove forests.

“A visionary plan to manage the coastline was adopted in 2016,” the United Nations body is reported to have concluded at a meeting in Manama, Bahrain. “The level of conservation we hoped for has been achieved.”

Image: Joel Vodell

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