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Belize Great Barrier Reef Reserve System June 12, 2011
Belize also is also home to 145 species of mammals and greater than 135 species of reptiles and amphibians with more new discoveries. ³UNESCO and the World Heritage Program have emphasized the importance that this system has to offer not only to Belize. coastal lagoons. More than 500 species of fish and 500 species of birds in the area. 3). All the same. 36 soft coral species. but also to the world. Coral reef researcher Julianne Robinson stated. This is quite a small reef considering Australia¶s reef is the largest that is about 1600 miles long. 2002. plant. threatened. Mexico. or vulnerable by Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES). but it is nonetheless under threat´ (Handwerk.BELIZE GREAT BARRIER REEF RESERVE SYSTEM 2 Belize Great Barrier Reef Reserve System In 1996. Together. mangrove forests. The primary reason for their endangered status is loss of nesting . para. Belize¶s Great Barrier Reef Reserve System is located in the Caribbean Sea 520 kilometers. and many species of coral. The diversity of life forms found in the Belize Barrier Reef is remarkable. 5). they form the Belize Barrier Reef Reserve System (Handwerk. Belize¶s reef is the second largest reef in the world extending approximately 200 miles in length. 2002. 2011). several coastal species are considered endangered. A total of 178 terrestrial plants and 247 taxa of marine flora have been described from the area. Belize¶s reef is an impressive natural system consisting of several hundred offshore cays. and animal life. It is one of the few places left where you can observe nature at its best. para. In Belize. or 311 miles south of Cancun. seven marine areas in Belize were accorded UNESCO World Heritage status. and invertebrate species including sponges (World Heritage Convention/UNESCO. The system¶s seven major sites show evolutionary history of the reef development and the significance of this habitat for the threatened species that occupy this system. plus 70 hard coral species.
Sea grass Beds are sandy bays of abundant beds of sea grasses. Atolls are ring-shaped reefs surrounding a central lagoon. Three major atolls located in the Belize Barrier System are Glovers Reef. which occurs in deep water. 2011). Faroes are "shelf atolls" and are an unusual reef type in the Caribbean. 200-300 cays exist. and Lighthouse Reef. Within the Belizean coastal zone. The removal of only one species can trigger a chain reaction affecting many others. anemones. Cays are very fragile areas as they are prime targets for tourism and other recreational development. Few coral types make up fringing reefs.BELIZE GREAT BARRIER REEF RESERVE SYSTEM 3 sites and habitat. The biological interrelationships among the life forms in the area are expansive. although 90% of the reef has yet to be explored. Various ecosystems and life forms frame the masterpiece of Belize¶s Great Barrier Reef System. They are widespread near central lagoons. They resemble miniature atolls as they form in a lagoon rather than outside the reef. Turneffe Islands. manatees and marine turtles. and other invertebrates such as octopus. and many others. They are highly productive ecosystems that provide essential nursery grounds for many marine species (Coastal Treasures of Belize. The relationships among them are necessary to keep the entire system functioning. Fringing reefs form close to the mainland and are more tolerant to sedimentation and fresh water because of their proximity to river mouths. low island composed of coral or sand. Coral reefs are one of the most diverse and productive ecosystems on earth and are associated with organisms such as hundred of fish species. These beds are literally "sea pastures" for several grass eating fish as well as conch. Patch reefs range in size from a small clump of coral heads to huge reef structures. A Cay is a small. Part of the reef's platform emerges as a group of small islands. . Mangroves are a group of woody salt tolerant trees that are adapted to grow in the intertidal zone.
UNSESCO World Heritage Centre. Scientific. The Biodiversity & Environmental Resource Data System of Belize (BERDS). Glovers Reef Marine Reserve. Belize Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries.BELIZE GREAT BARRIER REEF RESERVE SYSTEM 4 Belize is one of the last countries in the world to have extensive areas of almost pristine reef. The Blue Hole. and Sapodilla Cays Marine Reserve. and overfishing. UNDP/GEF Coastal Zone Management Project. Until recently. World Heritage Committee. . The top seven marine protected areas are Bacalar Chico national park and marine reserve. and the Belize Audubon Society's Advocacy Program are involved on a local scale. Half Moon Cay Natural Monument. Inadequate implemented institutional and legal frameworks are aiding human threats to the system. For decades. Belizeans have depended on the sea for their livelihood. Since the beginning of this century. safeguard. Unfortunately. rapid coastal development. Working on a global level is The United Nations Educational.). The conservation groups who aim to reach this goal include local and global associations. to name a few. the main impacts on the Belize Barrier Reef were from natural events such as hurricanes and climate changes. and preserve the most threatened areas in the reefs system. Belize Institute of Environmental Law and Policy (BELPO). Government of Belize¶s Department of the Environment (DOE). 2011). and National Geographic Society. The greatest damage comes from human intrusion by improper solid-waste management and agrochemical run-off. Additionally more damage and destruction increase every day. as local and global efforts are scarce (Sue Wells. Laughing Bird Cay National Park. the fish populations around the Caribbean have decreased by 60 to 70% (Coastal Treasures of Belize. South Wather Cay Marine Reserve. nd. tourism. and Cultural Organization (UNESCO). it is also subject to many threats of global concern and the area already seriously degraded an estimated 10% of the earth's coral reefs. Conservation organizations have united to protect. Belize.
. Educating tourist on the sensitivity of the vast ecosystems and establishing areas of nondisturbance to protect the wildlife in the area.BELIZE GREAT BARRIER REEF RESERVE SYSTEM 5 The Belize Institute of Environmental Law and Policy (BELPO). and Control. Zoning. filed a petition in 2004 ³TO THE WORLD HERITAGE COMMITTEE REQUESTING INCLUSION OF THE BELIZE BARRIER REEF SYSTEM IN THE LIST OF WORLD HERITAGE IN DANGER AS A RESULT OF CLIMATE CHANGE AND FOR PROTECTIVE MEASURES AND ACTIONS´ (Gonzalez. The management plans incorporate Planning. Development. One way that could have a large impact would be to create a nonprofit awareness program and promote fundraisers to donate proceeds to the support agency of choice. and the biological interrelations in several ways. 2004). Natives could also petition the government to discourage tourist development of resorts and hotels that could destroy the area. Individuals can help preserve the diversity. Supporting the organizations listed above through donation or volunteer efforts that would provide the organizations with resources to aid in their benefit efforts. Reefs around the world remain recorded as threatened by damage and disease. Belize natives could help by taking a stand in this education process for the tourist. Supporting. Not many people are aware of the destruction of this large natural biologically amazing system. The University College of Belize has prepared management plans for marine protected areas. raising awareness and donations could help on an individual level to conserving Belize¶s Great Barrier Reef System. 2002). ecosystems. The National Geographic Society embarked on an expedition in 2002 in hopes of pursuing an interactive component of the expedition by bringing all these wonders of the Belize Barrier Reef System to the attention of the world to inspire people to take a more active role in protecting such places (Handwerk.
It will change the relationship with the resources in the ocean.BELIZE GREAT BARRIER REEF RESERVE SYSTEM 6 Advocates for Marine and Coastal Zone Protected Areas. there would be nothing to block the organisms from the deep sea to come into the shore. Public Education and Participation. . Because of the realities of globalization. Research and Monitoring. 2011). can cause harm to the coral reefs all the way in Australia. Damage to the corals in Australia can affect the ocean in Belize as well (University of Michigan. and cost-efficient solutions arise to overcome them. and Training and Public Awareness (Coastal Treasures of Belize. practical. However. If the reefs were left to die from human impacts. it is remarkably diverse both ecologically and culturally. the challenges outlined above pose serious threats to Belize's ecosystems. Despite Belize¶s small size. these challenges will become more pronounced unless creative. nd). Just as the actions Belize. The coral reefs act as a barrier between the island shore and the open ocean. thousands of miles away. Coral reefs balance the entire oceanic ecosystem.
Human Impact on the Great Barrier Reef. (nd).BELIZE GREAT BARRIER REEF RESERVE SYSTEM 7 References Clough. (2011). Belize Barrier Reef Reserve System. Retrieved from http://www. Retrieved from http://whc. UNDP/GEF Coastal Zone Management Project. Retrieved from http://www..ufl. (2011). ENDANGERED SPECIES.D.eoearth. COASTAL ECOSYSTEMS.com/news/2002/10/1017_021017_belize. Retrieved from http://news. D.html Sue Wells. Retrieved from http://sitemaker.belizenet. (2002).edu/gc2sec7labgroup3/conclusion World Heritage Convention/UNESCO.belizenet. Retrieved from http://www.html University of Michigan.com/coastal/6. L. Belize. C. (nd).nationalgeographic.edu/staff/athrock/BELIZE/Reef.html Coastal Treasures of Belize. Belize. J. (2004.html National Geographic News. Belize Barrier Reef.pdf Handwerk. November 15). Belize Barrier Reef System.umich. (2011).org/article/Belize_Barrier_Reef_System. Retrieved from http://news.nationalgeographic. (2009. PETITION TO THE WORLD HERITAGE COMMITTE REQUESTING INCLUSION OF BELIZE BARRIER REEF RESERVE SYSTEM. B.org/en/list/764 . Retrieved from http://www. June 22).html Gonzalez.edu/conservation/international/pdf/belize.westminster.unesco._Belize Coastal Treasures of Belize.com/coastal/3. Expedition to Explore Belize's Barrier Reefs.com/news/2002/10/1017_021017_belize. (2002). Retrieved from http://www.law. Expedition to Explore Belize's Barrier Reefs.
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