The World Heritage Committee, meeting in Manama since 24 June, decided Tuesday to remove the Belize Barrier Reef Reserve System from the List of World Heritage in Danger.
The Belize Ministry of Fisheries, Forestry, the Environment and Sustainable Development announced that is its pleased with the decision as the Committee considered that safeguarding measures taken by the country warranted the removal of the site from the World Heritage List in Danger. Those measures taken include the introduction of a moratorium on oil exploration in the entire maritime zone of Belize and the strengthening of forestry regulations allowing for better protection of mangroves.
Belize’s delegation to the World Heritage Committee Meeting is led by the Deputy Prime Minister, Hon. Patrick Faber and the Minister of Environment, Hon. Dr. Omar Figueroa. The Ministry took the opportunity to thank all those who have played a role in working to satisfy the conditions for removal.
It was a long day of deliberations and Belize was the last country to receive audience today by the Committee. Representatives from various countries commended the Government of Belize for its outstanding efforts in preservation of important universal values of the second largest Barrier Reef in the world. It was great to hear support from countries like Cuba, St. Kitts and Nevis, Hungary, Australia, Tanzania, Brazil, Norway, Bosnia, Bahrain and Tunisia, among others.
Environmental Activist, Madison Edwards shares the great moment with Deputy Prime Minister, Hon. Patrick Faber
Belize was also commended for its model role in cooperation with NGOs and civil society for the management of the system of protected areas which is an innovative model that should looked by other less developed countries.
Faber stated that addressing the challenges that had Belize in the ‘In Danger List’ took some time, but was pleased to say that Belize has met and surpassed the requirement and can boast leading the way in several regards.
“The inscription of the Barrier Reef reserve as a World Heritage Site in 1996 is a crown upon treasure, valuable to us and significant to the world,” stated Hon. Patrick Faber in his address. “This happy occasion celebration such a milestone achievement. In Belize we have long realized that one of our best assets is our natural resources. It is the cornerstone of our national economy and forms the rock upon which the culture and identity as a people is centered.”
The Belize Barrier Reef Reserve System comprises seven protected areas along the largest barrier reef in the northern hemisphere, including atolls, several hundred sand cayes, mangrove forests, coastal lagoons, and estuaries.
This outstanding natural system illustrates the evolutionary history of coral reef development and is a significant habitat for threatened marine species, including sea turtles and the West Indian Manatee. The Barrier Reef and its various attractions are a part of the core foundations for Belize’s vibrant tourism industry. It was inscribed as a UNESCO World Heritage site in 1996.
The site was inscribed on the List in Danger in 2009 due to the destruction of mangroves and marine ecosystems, offshore oil extraction, and the development of non-sustainable building projects.