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Belize Barrier Reef Reserve System

Belize
Factors affecting the property in 2018*
  • Housing
  • Invasive / alien marine species
  • Land conversion
  • Major visitor accommodation and associated infrastructure
  • Oil and gas
Factors* affecting the property identified in previous reports
  • Housing ad Major visitor accommodation and associated infrastructure (Destruction of fragile ecosystems due to resort / housing development)
  • Invasive / alien marine species (Introduced species)
  • Land conversion (Sale and lease of public lands within the property)
  • Oil and gas (Oil concessions within the marine area)
Threats for which the property was inscribed on the List of World Heritage in Danger

Sale and lease of public lands for the purposes of development within the property leading to the destruction of mangrove and marine ecosystems

Desired state of conservation for the removal of the property from the List of World Heritage in Danger

Adopted, see page https://whc.unesco.org/en/decisions/6208

Corrective Measures for the property

Adopted, see page https://whc.unesco.org/en/decisions/1825

Timeframe for the implementation of the corrective measures

Adopted, see page http://whc.unesco.org/en/decisions/6208 

UNESCO Extra-Budgetary Funds until 2018

Total amount granted: USD 140,000: i) USD 30,000 from the Rapid Response Facility for the monitoring of unauthorized activities in the Bladen Nature Reserves which were impacting the property; ii) USD 30,000 for emergency conservation actions in favour of the critically endangered wide sawfish (2010); iii) USD 80,000 in support of public use planning and site financing strategy development for the Blue Hole Natural Monument (2008-2009)

International Assistance: requests for the property until 2018
Requests approved: 0
Total amount approved : 0 USD
Missions to the property until 2018**

March 2009: joint World Heritage Centre/IUCN Reactive Monitoring mission; February 2013: IUCN Reactive Monitoring mission; January 2015: joint World Heritage Centre/IUCN Technical mission; December 2017 joint World Heritage Centre/IUCN Advisory mission

Conservation issues presented to the World Heritage Committee in 2018

On 29 March 2018, the State Party submitted a report on the state of conservation of the property available at http://whc.unesco.org/en/list/1138/documents/ and additional information on 15 April and 15 May 2018, reporting the following progress towards achieving the Desired state of conservation for the removal of the property from the List of World Heritage in Danger (DSOCR):

  • In December 2017, a Petroleum Operations (Maritime Zone Moratorium) Act was enacted, establishing a moratorium on oil exploration and other petroleum operations in the entire maritime zone of Belize;
  • The revised Forests (Protection of Mangroves) Regulations were adopted by the government. They include stricter control mechanisms for protection of “priority mangrove areas” and specifically establish that impacts on and proximity to the property should be considered in the requirements for granting permits for mangrove alteration. An assessment of mangrove cover within the property shows that current cover is 95.3% of 1996 mangrove coverage and that almost no mangrove clearing has occurred within the property since 2009;
  • The Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) Checklist has been amended to include consideration of potential impacts on the Outstanding Universal Value (OUV) of the property and revision of the EIA Regulations is ongoing to reflect this change;
  • The Coastal Zone Management Authority and Institute (CZMAI) has continued to work on the operationalization of the Integrated Coastal Zone Management Plan (ICZMP), including through the reactivation of Coastal Advisory Committees (CACs) and development of a road map of activities;
  • The voluntary moratorium on sale and lease of public lands within the property continues to be upheld. However, in order to develop a legally binding instrument, a comprehensive assessment of land tenure within the property is required, following which the remaining public lands can be declared reserves. While due to the size of the property, this process will require additional time, the Ministry of Natural Resources and the Ministry of Fisheries, Forestry and the Environment have agreed to complete land tenure verification in 2018. A preliminary study of land tenure within the property has already been undertaken by WWF and, although the State Party notes that its results might not be fully accurate, indicates that about 85% of the land area of the property is national lands, but within marine reserves, where land areas have no protected status, it is only about 15%.
Analysis and Conclusion by World Heritage Centre and the Advisory Bodies in 2018

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.

Further revision and amendment of the EIA Checklist and the corresponding ongoing revision of the EIA Regulations to include specific consideration of potential impacts on the OUV of the property are also welcomed. However, it appears that the provisions to specifically consider potential impacts on the OUV of the property were only included in the checklist for mining projects, but not tourism or other types of projects. It is recommended that the Committee urge the State Party to ensure that the EIA Checklist includes these provisions for all types of projects and to finalize the remaining steps in the legal adoption of the revised EIA Regulations. Provided that the State Party assures full implementation of these measures, including in the short term, the inclusion of these specific provisions, together with other instruments discussed below, can be considered to provide an adequate framework for ensuring that no development occurs within the property and in its vicinity that would negatively impact its OUV. Together with the progress reported in the further implementation of the ICZMP which also includes specific guidelines defining appropriate types of development, this therefore addresses Indicators 2 and 4 of the DSOCR, which relate to protection of the property from development which might have negative impacts on its OUV, and integrated management of the property, respectively. However, it will be important to secure sufficient resources for the implementation of the ICZMP in the longer term.

Further progress achieved by the State Party in the revision and official adoption of the Forests (Protection of Mangroves) Regulations, and the findings of the study on mangrove cover, should also be welcomed. With the adoption of the Mangroves Regulation and the confirmation of the current extent of mangrove cover within the property, significant progress has been achieved towards meeting Indicator 1 of the DSOCR, related to the maintenance of the mangrove cover within the property. Protection of mangroves should be strengthened further through the development of a legally binding moratorium on sales and lease of public lands within the property. However, the State Party notes that, while a voluntary moratorium on sales and leases of lands within the property remains in force, development of a legally binding instrument can only be undertaken following a detailed assessment of land tenure which will require additional time. Initiation of such a process and a methodology have already been agreed, with the proposal to declare remaining public lands as reserves once the land tenure has been officially verified. Under these circumstances, taking into account the State Party’s commitment to finalize the process in 2018, it can be concluded that the objective of DSOCR Indicator 1 has been met. However, given the fact that a significant proportion of lands within the property which have no protection status has already been sold or leased, further efforts should be focused on ensuring that revised regulations on development, such as the Mangroves and the EIA Regulations, are efficiently implemented and enforced in order to ensure that no development occurs on these private lands that would have any negative impacts on the OUV of the property.

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, and request the State Party to continue reporting on further progress achieved on the outstanding matters outlined above, and in the draft decision below.

Decisions adopted by the Committee in 2018
42 COM 7A.43
Belize Barrier Reef Reserve System (Belize) (N 764)

The World Heritage Committee,

  1. Having examined Document WHC/18/42.COM/7A.Add,
  2. Recalling Decision 41 COM 7A.2, adopted at its 41st session (Krakow, 2017),
  3. Commends the State Party for the progress made in achieving the Desired state of conservation for the removal of the property from the List of World Heritage in Danger (DSOCR) and particularly welcomes the legal enactment of a moratorium on oil exploration and other petroleum operations in the entire maritime zone of Belize;
  4. Considers that Indicators 2, 3 and 4 of the DSOCR have been fully achieved, and that Indicator 1 can be considered as achieved given the confirmation by the State Party that official verification of land tenure and subsequent declaration as mangrove reserves of the remaining public lands within marine reserves comprising the property has been officially agreed and initiated by the relevant ministries, and is expected to be completed in 2018;
  5. Decides to remove Belize Barrier Reef Reserve System (Belize) from the List of World Heritage in Danger;
  6. Requests the State Party to ensure that the process of official land tenure verification within the property is completed in due course and no later than by the end of 2018, and that the remaining public lands within the property are designated as strict reserves, in line with the commitment expressed by the State Party;
  7. Urges the State Party to address the pending issues related to the revised regulatory instruments, in particular to ensure that specific provisions for consideration of potential impacts on the property’s Outstanding Universal Value (OUV) are included in the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) Checklist for all types of projects, and that the ongoing revision of the EIA Regulations reflects this and is completed as a matter of priority;
  8. Strongly encourages the State Party to continue to ensure that the resources required for the long-term implementation of the Integrated Coastal Zone Management Plan are secured;
  9. Also requests the State Party to submit to the World Heritage Centre, by 1 February 2019, an updated report on the state of conservation of the property and the implementation of the above, for examination by the World Heritage Committee at its 43rd session in 2019.
42 COM 8C.3
Update of the List of World Heritage in Danger (Removed Properties)

The World Heritage Committee,

  1. Having examined the state of conservation reports of properties inscribed on the List of World Heritage in Danger (WHC/18/42.COM/7A, WHC/18/42.COM/7A.Add and WHC/18/42.COM/7A.Add.2),
  2. Decides to remove the following property from the List of World Heritage in Danger:
  • Belize, Belize Barrier Reef Reserve System (Decision 42 COM 7A.43)
Draft Decision: 42 COM 7A.43

The World Heritage Committee,

  1. Having examined Document WHC/18/42.COM/7A.Add,
  2. Recalling Decision 41 COM 7A.2, adopted at its 41st session (Krakow, 2017),
  3. Commends the State Party for the progress made in achieving the Desired state of conservation for the removal of the property from the List of World Heritage in Danger (DSOCR) and particularly welcomes the legal enactment of a moratorium on oil exploration and other petroleum operations in the entire maritime zone of Belize;
  4. Considers that Indicators 2, 3 and 4 of the DSOCR have been fully achieved, and that Indicator 1 can be considered as achieved given the confirmation by the State Party that official verification of land tenure and subsequent declaration as mangrove reserves of the remaining public lands within marine reserves comprising the property has been officially agreed and initiated by the relevant ministries, and is expected to be completed in 2018;
  5. Decides to remove Belize Barrier Reef Reserve System (Belize) from the List of World Heritage in Danger;
  6. Requests the State Party to ensure that the process of official land tenure verification within the property is completed in due course and no later than by the end of 2018, and that the remaining public lands within the property are designated as strict reserves, in line with the commitment expressed by the State Party;
  7. Urges the State Party to address the pending issues related to the revised regulatory instruments, in particular to ensure that specific provisions for consideration of potential impacts on the property’s Outstanding Universal Value (OUV) are included in the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) Checklist for all types of projects, and that the ongoing revision of the EIA Regulations reflects this and is completed as a matter of priority;
  8. Strongly encourages the State Party to continue to ensure that the resources required for the long-term implementation of the Integrated Coastal Zone Management Plan are secured;
  9. Also requests the State Party to submit to the World Heritage Centre, by 1 February 2019, an updated report on the state of conservation of the property and the implementation of the above, for examination by the World Heritage Committee at its 43rd session in 2019.
Report year: 2018
Belize
Date of Inscription: 1996
Category: Natural
Criteria: (vii)(ix)(x)
Danger List (dates): 2009-2018
Documents examined by the Committee
SOC Report by the State Party
Report (2018) .pdf
arrow_circle_right 42COM (2018)
Exports

* : The threats indicated are listed in alphabetical order; their order does not constitute a classification according to the importance of their impact on the property.
Furthermore, they are presented irrespective of the type of threat faced by the property, i.e. with specific and proven imminent danger (“ascertained danger”) or with threats which could have deleterious effects on the property’s Outstanding Universal Value (“potential danger”).

** : All mission reports are not always available electronically.


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