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Belize Reef to be taken off the Endangered World Heritage Site List Print E-mail
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Thursday, 31 May 2018 00:00

Personnel from the Ministry of Fisheries, Forestry, the Environment, and Sustainable Development and the Ministry of Natural Resources have been working to implement a series of remedial actions to qualify the Belize Barrier Reef Reserve System for delisting from the list of World Heritage Sites that are in Danger, a list it has been on since 2009. This initiative has been done in collaboration with the Fisheries Department, Forest Department, Lands and Surveys Department, the Belize UNESCO Office and the World Wildlife Fund.

So far, a draft decision has been published on the World Heritage Centre’s website. That draft serves to notify that the Belize Barrier Reef Reserve System, which was inscribed as a UNESCO World Heritage site in 1996, has met the necessary signs to be delisted.

Such indicators include the enactment of the December 2017 Petroleum Operations (Maritime Zone Moratorium) Act, which established a halt on oil exploration and other petroleum operations in the entire maritime zone of Belize. Also, a revised Forests (Protection of Mangroves) Regulations were adopted by the government; under this revision, stricter control mechanisms to protect priority mangrove areas were established. An assessment shows that the current mangrove cover is 95.3% of the 1996 amount and that almost no mangrove clearing has occurred since 2009.

Several other initiatives have been taken including the amendment of the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) Checklist, the continued work of the Coastal Zone Management Authority and Institute (CZMAI), and a voluntary cease of sale and lease of public land within the property.

Given these adjustments, the World Heritage Committee and Advisory Bodies have concluded that the “significant progress made by the State Party towards achieving the DSOCR is commendable, particularly the enactment of a moratorium on oil exploration and other petroleum operations within the entire maritime zone of Belize, whereby Indicator 3 of the DSOCR, related to protection of the property from possible oil operations, has been fully met and exceeded.”

“Overall, it can be concluded that the DSOCR has been achieved and it is therefore recommended that the Committee remove the property from the List of World Heritage in Danger”.

That decision to delist Belize or not will be made in June 2018 at the 42nd meeting of the World Heritage Committee in Bahrain.

Although the work to de-list the Belize Barrier Reef Reserve System began several years ago, the recent success was made possible through the strategic support of the Cabinet, the Deputy Prime Minister, the Minister of Environment, the Minister of Natural Resources, and the two-line Ministries.

 

Last Updated on Thursday, 31 May 2018 12:03