All these efforts to save coral reefs might not have been in vain, as we have just marked a victory in this difficult quest. This week, Unesco made the historical move of no longer classifying the Belize coral reef as endangered. The organization removed the Mesoamerican reef from the threatened World Heritage Sites list and called the country responsible for this success.
The Belize coral reef was in a critical state
The Belize coral reef was among the most important formations of the kind, as it is the second biggest after the Australian Great Barrier Reef. Its loss would have been a serious blow to the environment, as it hosts a variety of species. These include fish, sharks, turtles, as well as many other diverse creatures.
Almost a decade ago, Unesco got worried about the future of the Belize coral reef, so it included it on the endangered list. These concerns came from a series of dangerous actions performed by the country, such as the lack of environmental laws and the plans for an oil extraction site right next to the shore.
The Belizean authorities acted quickly when they understood the danger
However, Belize paid attention to these warnings. In 2016, the country adopted a well-defined plan to deal with these issues, and the efforts were successful. Before this plan, the authorities settled a target of conservation, so they would be able to guide their actions.
The Belize coral reef entered the World Heritage List in 1996, but Unesco realized it was endangered only in 2009. Given the huge number of species it encompassed, the situation was pretty critical. However, the warning didn’t only address the coral reef. The mangroves that surrounded and protected it were also in danger.
All these factors were enough to scare the Belize government. They quickly understood the destruction of the coral reef would be a big blow for their economy, so the authorities took action immediately. Now, their efforts were successful, and Unesco congratulated them for their initiative.
Image source: Wikimedia Commons