Belize television 7 News Belize reports that mangrove forests at Fisherman’s Caye are being dredged and filled for resort development. This caye is one of many tiny islands in the South Water Caye Marine Reserve, named a UN World Heritage Site in 1996. Following a recent visit, UNESCO’s Francesco Bandarin sent a stinging letter to Belize’s Minister of Natural Resources, complaining about “massive removal of mangrove forests”.
ELAW is working with partners in Belize to protect this and other valuable marine areas from destruction at the hands of developers. ELAW partner Candy Gonzalez, an attorney with the Belize Institute for Environmental Law and Policy, says that representatives from the UNESCO World Heritage Committee have visited the area in the past, but never addressed her organization’s concerns about the Reef. “This time, with a concerted effort, they did listen,” says Candy. “Though they refused to address the impact that climate change has had on the Reef, as raised in petitions we submitted in November 2004, they did admit that climate change must be a concern for all World Heritage sites.”
The World Heritage Committee meets in June. The hope is that the Committee will bring international attention to the destruction of Belize’s Barrier Reef System by moving this World Heritage site to the “in danger” list, rather than “red flagging” it.