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Unesco Removes Belize's Reefs from Endangered List

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Belize's Blue Hole

The reefs around Belize have been removed from the United Nations list of endangered world heritage sites.

The heritage committee of Unesco, the world body’s educational, scientific and cultural agency,  voted on Tuesday to remove the reef from its list of threatened sites. 

'In the last two years, especially in the last year, the government of Belize really has made a transformational shift,' says Fanny Douvere, the coordinator of the marine program at Unesco’s World Heritage Centre.

The Committee considered that safeguarding measures taken by the country, notably 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, warranted the removal of the site from the World Heritage List in Danger.

The site was put on on the list in 2009 following the destruction of mangroves and marine ecosystems, offshore oil extraction, and the development of non-sustainable building projects.

The Belize Barrier Reef Reserve System had been made a World Heritage site in 1996. It includes the largest barrier reef in the northern hemisphere, offshore atolls, several hundred sand cays, mangrove forests, coastal lagoons and estuaries. It's seven sites are a significant habitat for threatened species, such as marine turtles, the manatee and the American marine crocodile.

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Healthy corals on Lightening Reef, Belize

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Green turtle feeding in Hol Chan national marine park in Belize

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