The world heritage organization Unesco has removed the Belize Barrier Reef from the list of endangered World Heritage Sites, the first time the protected areas has been off the list in nine years.
This new move is an important step from a conservationist standpoint because it shows that the so-called “visionary” steps taken by the country to protect the area worked and could be employed to other areas of the world.
The barrier reef is the second largest on Earth right behind Australia’s famous Great Barrier. As a result, it is filled with various threatened species like manatees, marine turtles, and the American marine crocodile.
The reef first joined the list of world heritage sites in 1996, but it did not truly come into danger until 2009 when the Belizean government began to allow oil exploration in the area, BBC News reports.
After pressure from both Unesco and outside environmental organizations, officials passed a moratorium on oil exploration in Belizean waters last year. As of now it is one of the few countries on Earth that have such legislation.
That move led to a new level of conservation that brought the region back from the brink. The move is a huge success because, as it took less than a year for the area to rebound, it shows that such preservation measures might work in other countries as well.