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Belize Barrier Reef Reserve System

Belize
Factors affecting the property in 2019*
  • Invasive / alien marine species
  • Land conversion
  • Oil and gas
Factors* affecting the property identified in previous reports
  • Housing and major visitor accommodation and associated infrastructure (Destruction of fragile ecosystems due to resort / housing development) (issue resolved)
  • Integrated management
  • 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 2019

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 2019
Requests approved: 0
Total amount approved : 0 USD
Missions to the property until 2019**

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 2019

On 27 February 2019, the State Party submitted a report on the state of conservation of the property available at http://whc.unesco.org/en/list/764/documents/, reporting the following progress towards implementing Decision 42 COM7A.43:

  • Funding has been secured and Terms of Reference have been drafted for completing the official land tenure verification within the property. Simultaneously, actions are being undertaken to initiate drafting of the necessary legal instruments for the designation of remaining public lands within the property as strict mangrove reserves, which will integrate the results of the land survey. Due to funding issues, the process has been slightly delayed but is now expected to be completed by April 2019;
  • Consideration of the Outstanding Universal Value (OUV) of the property has been integrated into the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) Checklist and EIA regulations are being amended for this purpose. It is stated that the amendments will be submitted for approval by the Cabinet in February 2019;
  • The Integrated Coastal Zone Management Plan (ICZMP) continues to be implemented through various activities, programmes and projects including the re-institution of the Coastal Zone Advisory Committee, the coastal planning region inventory, the Resilient Reefs Initiative, the Climate-Smarting Marine Protected Areas in the Meso-American Reef Region project, and the Marine Conservation and Climate Change Adaptation Project;
  • Other conservation initiatives are also being implemented which further strengthen the protection of the property, including those aimed at improving existing fishing regulations through the new Fisheries Resources Bill and increasing functional no-take areas in Belize territorial seas.
Analysis and Conclusion by World Heritage Centre and the Advisory Bodies in 2019

Following the achievement of the Desired state of conservation for the removal of the property from the List of World Heritage in Danger (DSOCR), the World Heritage Committee removed the property from the List of World Heritage in Danger at its 42nd session in 2018, requesting the State Party to ensure that pending issues related to the finalization of the official land tenure verification within the property were completed by the end of 2018. 

The State Party has made progress towards completing the land tenure verification process and the subsequent designation of remaining public lands in the property as strict mangrove reserves consistent with the requests of the Committee. However, it is reported that initial funding issues prevented completing the process by the end of 2018. Noting that funding has been secured and the land tenure verification is expected to be finalized by April 2019, it is recommended that the Committee reiterate its request to the State Party to complete the process, and subsequently designate remaining public lands within the property as strict mangrove reserves, as a matter of priority, and no later than 31 December 2019.

It is noted that specific provisions for the consideration of the property’s OUV have been included in the EIA Checklist, and amendments to the EIA Regulations were completed for Cabinet approval in February 2019. It is recommended that the Committee request the State Party to confirm the official approval of the amended Regulations, once available.

The State Party further continues to implement the ICZMP through a multitude of projects, programmes and activities, including a new 4-year Resilient Reefs Initiative that is being implemented in collaboration with an international consortium of partners, including the World Heritage Centre’s Marine Programme. It is recommended that the Committee encourage the State Party to continue its efforts in the implementation of the ICZMP. From 26 to 30 November 2018, the government of Australia hosted a 5-day high-level visit for delegates from Belize to exchange best practices on climate impacts and leveraging the World Heritage designation to secure sustainable livelihoods, jobs and income for local communities.

Finally, other actions reported by the State Party should be welcomed, including finalization of the Fisheries Resources Bill, expected to be officially approved by the Cabinet in mid-2019, and implementation of the National Replenishment Zone Expansion initiative that was adopted in April 2019. The latter increases the area of Belize waters as no-take zones from the current 4.5% to 11.6%. This progress is important and can be expected to substantially add to the overall protection of the OUV of the property.

Decisions adopted by the Committee in 2019
43 COM 7B.21
Belize Barrier Reef Reserve System (Belize) (N 764)

The World Heritage Committee,

  1. Having examined Document WHC/19/43.COM/7B,
  2. Recalling Decision 42 COM 7A.43, adopted at its 42nd session (Manama, 2018),
  3. Welcomes the State Party’s confirmation that it will complete the land tenure verification process in April 2019, followed by the designation of remaining public lands within the property as strict mangrove reserves, however notes that this was not completed in 2018 as requested in Decision 42 COM 7A.43, and requests the State Party to finalize the process as a matter of priority and no later than 31 December 2019;
  4. Also welcomes the confirmation provided by the State Party that consideration of the property’s Outstanding Universal Value (OUV) has been included in the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) Checklist and the amended EIA Regulations are expected to be approved in 2019, and also requests the State Party to confirm the official approval of the amended Regulations, once available;
  5. Takes note of the information provided by the State Party regarding the continued implementation of the Integrated Coastal Zone Management Plan, including through bilateral and multilateral programmes and funding initiatives, and encourages the State Party to continue these efforts;
  6. Further welcomes measures undertaken by the State Party to further strengthen fishing regulations, including progress achieved towards finalization and official approval of the Fisheries Resources Bill and actions aimed at increasing the total area covered by no-take zones;
  7. Further requests the State Party to submit to the World Heritage Centre, by 1 December 2020, 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 45th session in 2021.
Draft Decision: 43 COM 7B.21

The World Heritage Committee,

  1. Having examined Document WHC/19/43.COM/7B,
  2. Recalling Decision 42 COM 7A.43, adopted at its 42nd session (Manama, 2018),
  3. Welcomes the State Party’s confirmation that it will complete the land tenure verification process in April 2019, followed by the designation of remaining public lands within the property as strict mangrove reserves, however notes that this was not completed in 2018 as requested in Decision 42 COM 7A.43, and requests the State Party to finalize the process as a matter of priority and no later than 31 December 2019;
  4. Also welcomes the confirmation provided by the State Party that consideration of the property’s Outstanding Universal Value (OUV) has been included in the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) Checklist and the amended EIA Regulations are expected to be approved in 2019, and also requests the State Party to confirm the official approval of the amended Regulations, once available;
  5. Takes note of the information provided by the State Party regarding the continued implementation of the Integrated Coastal Zone Management Plan, including through bilateral and multilateral programmes and funding initiatives, and encourages the State Party to continue these efforts;
  6. Further welcomes measures undertaken by the State Party to further strengthen fishing regulations, including progress achieved towards finalization and official approval of the Fisheries Resources Bill and actions aimed at increasing the total area covered by no-take zones;
  7. Further requests the State Party to submit to the World Heritage Centre, by 1 December 2020, 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 45th session in 2021.
Report year: 2019
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 (2019) .pdf
arrow_circle_right 43COM (2019)
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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