The Belize Barrier Reef Reserve System is part of Mesoamerican Barrier Reef System (MAR), the longest reef in the Northern Hemisphere and the second longest coral reef system in the world after the Great Barrier Reef in Australia. The MAR stretches from the tip of Cancun to the Bay Islands of Honduras.

Belize coast

The reef ecosystem has remarkable biological diversity and beauty.  It provides a habitat for about 500 species of fish, 350 species of mollusks, and 65 species of stony coral. Well over one million local people directly depend on the integrity and health of the reef for their livelihood, and the national economies of four countries substantially benefit from the reef's appeal as an international tourist destination.

Bleached Elkhorn CoralBleached Elkhorn Corl from Bacalar Chico National Park and Marine Reserve

In 1996 the Belize Barrier Reef Reserve System (BBRS), part of the MAR, was inscribed on the World Heritage Site List. For a brief description about the reef, for the justification for inscription on the World Heritage Site List, and for other actions by the World Heritage Committee please click here.

In 2004 BELPO and others filed a petition with the World Heritage Committee to designate the BBRS as a "World Heritage Site, In Danger" to bring attention to the multiple threats to the reef. Read the petition to the World Heritage Committee here.

In 2009 the World Heritage Committee responded by placing the BBRS on the World Heritage Site, In Danger list. For detailed information about why the World Heritage Committee placed the BBRS on the In Danger list, please see the report of the visit of UNESCO/IUCN Monitoring Mission. The 2009 Final UNESCO Report can be found here.

Healthy Great Star CoralHealthy Great Star Coral