The United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) announced Tuesday that the Belize Barrier Reef is no longer on its list of endangered World Heritage Sites, the BBC reported.
The site had been flagged by the world heritage body in 2009, when the Belize government considered allowing oil exploration in adjacent waters. But since that time, the Central American country had taken "visionary" steps to preserve it, UNESCO said.
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“The Belizean government deserves tremendous credit for partnering with the NGO sector and taking concrete steps toward safeguarding this truly special seascape — and that work will continue,” Nicole Auil Gomez, Belize country director for the Wildlife Conservation Society, said in a statement, according to HuffPost.
“We remain optimistic that smart, effective conservation measures, with a focus on long-term commitments that lead to results, can help save endangered World Heritage Sites before they disappear.”
A 190-mile-long swatch of coral that includes world-renowned destinations like the Great Blue Hole, is home to nearly 1,400 species and has been described as one of the most biodiverse marine sites on the planet, noted HuffPost’s report.
Included among those are a number of threatened species, such as marine turtles, manatees, and the American marine crocodile, according to the BBC.
But the reef and its inhabitants now benefit under the protection of a landmark moratorium on oil exploration in Belizean waters, passed in December 2017. The BBC noted that Belize is one of only a handful of countries in the world with such legislation.
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