By Aaron Humes: The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) has lauded the adaptation of the first Integrated Coastal Zone management plan—a blueprint for sustainable use of the rich marine resources of the Barrier Reef.
UNESCO calls it a second major step forward in getting the reef off the List of World Heritage Sites in Danger; the first was the announcement of a permanent ban for oil exploitation in the entire World Heritage Area.
According to UNESCO’s website, Belize’s new coastal zone plan is one of the most forward-thinking ocean management plans in the world. By mapping out different alternative scenarios, the plan will enable the Belizean government to make informed choices about the use of ocean space, future development on the coast, and build alignment around key priorities, including effective conservation of the reef’s Outstanding Universal Value.
The plan was developed by the Belize Coastal Zone Management Authority and Institute in collaboration with the Natural Capital Project at Stanford University. Its spatial scenarios were designed through an extensive multi-year community and stakeholder consultation process.
Belize has subscribed to an ambitious 3-year roadmap that sets out 4 key conservation targets that are anticipated to be completed by December 2016.
The World Heritage Centre and IUCN and currently working closely together with the Government of Belize toward the completion of the agreed targets. The fulfillment of the Desired State of Conservation will potentially make the Belize Barrier Reef eligible for removal of the World Heritage List in Danger at the 41st session of the World Heritage Committee in 2017.
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