World's second largest coral reef is no longer in danger: UNESCO
New Delhi : The UNESCO has removed the name of world’s second largest coral reef from the list of “World Heritage in Danger”. Known as the Belize Barrier Reef Reserve System (BBRRS), the coral reef was listed as endangered treasure in 2009. Now, considering the current situation, the World Heritage Committee during their 42nd annual meeting, held in Manama, Bahrain, has taken off the name from the endangered place list.
The BBRRS was listed as endangered due to a number of threats, including indefensible tourism development on many islands and cayes within the site. The news of possible oil and gas activities further appear as threats to the site’s fragile ecosystem, due to allowances granted within the marine ecosystem.
The World Heritage Committee accredited Belize’s safeguarding measures as the reason for the historic conservational triumph. As a means of protective the reef, the country introduced a ban on oil discovery along the entire maritime zone of the country in December of 2017, and they recently strengthened forestry policy to provide better protection of mangroves.
The Belizean reef system was first listed in the World Heritage List in 1996. It is a wonderful 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 considered a major habitat for threatened species, including the green, hawk-billed, and loggerhead sea turtle, the West Indian manatee, and the American marine crocodile.
“Today’s removal of the Belize Barrier Reef Reserve System from the List of World Heritage in Danger is a pivotal moment for the World Heritage Convention and the oceans,” said Dr. Mechtild Rossler, Director of the UNESCO World Heritage Centre.
“The conservation leadership of the government of Belize has brought a landmark shift for the world’s second largest coral reef system at a time when coral reefs are severely threatened by climate change. Today’s outcome shows the power of collective action among government, UNESCO, IUCN and civil society and sets an example for the rest of the world.”
The UNESCO World Heritage Committee meets once a year to assign new sites across the world for their excellent natural, scientific, or cultural significance. Along with elimination of the Belize Barrier Reef from the danger list, they added 19 new sites across the world.