The Underwater Treasures of Belize

 Belize Barrier Reef

Belize Barrier Reef

Belize, a country in distant Central America is a land of a thick rain forest, Maya ruins and beneath the turquoise Caribbean waters that washes its coast lays one of the most extensive barrier reef systems in the world. Off the beaten touristic path, the destination has been put on the map of environmentalists a few decades ago as an endangered UNESCO Heritage Site, and for the looks of it will likely remain on the list of threatened sites.

Reefs around the world are threatened by damage, disease and habitat destruction, but the astonishing biodiversity of Belize Barrier Reef was one of the reasons seven of its areas got the protection of UNESCO, forming Belize Barrier Reserve System in 2009. Last month the World Heritage Center recommended that the reef stays on the endangered list as some key issues remain unresolved despite the efforts of Belize.

 Belize Coral Reef

Belize Coral Reef

Pristine Belize Barrier Reef is not only the largest barrier reef in the northern hemisphere, the seven protected sites of the system illustrate the evolutionary history of reef development and are a home for threatened species. Why care about reefs? Well, for one thing, biodiversity is a concept vital to our survival, to say the least and reefs like the one in Belize are natural habitats of many species. In addition, reefs are often a centerpiece of many communities and act as natural barriers against storm events, which is especially important in our changing climate. Every year, the ecosystem services provided by coral reefs to millions of people are estimated in hundreds of billion dollars, but the question in environmentalist community remains: ‘When will we stop forgetting that everything is interconnected in nature.’

 Belize Barrier Reef

Belize Barrier Reef

伯利兹城,一个拥有茂密雨林和玛雅遗迹的遥远中美洲国家,在冲刷着海岸的松石绿色的哥伦比亚海水下,有着世界最大的堡礁群之一。这个少有游客的地方,几十年前被环境学家列入濒危世界遗产名录,而且以它的现状它很可能被继续保留在遗产名录中。

世界各地的暗礁都面临着人为破坏、自然灾害和栖息地损毁的威胁,但是伯利兹堡礁惊人的生态多样性构成了它的七片区域得到联合国教科文组织保护,并在2009年成立了伯利兹堡礁保护系统的原因之一。上个月世界遗产中心建议将伯利兹堡礁继续列为濒危物种,因为即使在伯利兹城的努力下,一些关键的问题仍没有得到解决。

原始的伯利兹堡礁不仅是北半球最大的堡礁群,七个被保护的区域也阐述了暗礁的进化历史,同时也是濒危物种的家园。为什么暗礁如此受到重视?一个原因,生物多样性对人类的生存是一个至关重要的概念,至少像伯利兹堡礁这样的暗礁是许多物种的天然栖息地。除此之外,珊瑚礁还是众多生物种群的生存核心同时也是抵御风暴的天然屏障,这一点在当今多变的气候环境下显得尤为重要。每年,由珊瑚礁向无数人们提供的生物系统功能价值成千上万亿美元,但是环境学家给出的问题依然存在:我们什么时候才能不再遗忘万事万物都与自然届密切相关。

The Maker