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Belize - Why is the Belize Barrier Reef one of the most successful coral restoration projects in the world?

In Belize, community-based conservation is empowering local tour guides, fishermen and volunteers with the skills and resources needed to save the Belize Barrier Reef.

In Belize, community-based conservation is empowering local tour guides, fishermen and volunteers with the skills and resources needed to save the Belize Barrier Reef.

Co-ordinated by the Belize-based non-profit Fragments of Hope, the coastal community of Placencia Village in Stann Creek District, southern Belize, has spent over a decade planting hundreds of thousands of fragments of coral amongst hurricane-ravaged reefs.

Guides, fishers, divers and snorkellers are trained to plant coral and monitor its development under a community-focused system that’s seen coral coverage in protected areas off the coast of Placencia rebound from 6 per cent to 60 per cent.

Placencia has become one of the most successful and long-lasting coral regeneration sites in the world.

Placencia has become one of the most successful and long-lasting coral regeneration sites in the world, and the community-based conservation model is now being expanded in order to protect and regenerate large swathes of Belize’s vast, but endangered, barrier reef.

Why protect the Belize Barrier Reef?

The Belize Barrier Reef is the second-largest reef system in the world. Stretching for 190 miles along the coast of Belize, it’s home to hundreds of species of coral, fish, turtles, molluscs and marine mammals.

It’s also vital to the Belizean economy - the World Wildlife Fund estimates that the reef accounts for 15 per cent of the country’s GDP and provides work for upwards of 200,000 people in the fishing and tourism industries.

But the Belize Barrier Reef is under threat from coral bleaching events linked to climate change, trawling, oil exploration, and natural disasters.

In 2001, huge sections of the Belize Barrier Reef were devastated when Hurricane Iris slammed into the Placencia Peninsula. Coral overage in the area was reduced from an estimated 50 per cent to a low of 6 per cent, endangering an already fragile ecosystem while putting local livelihoods at risk.

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