Belize Barrier Reef Reserve System (BBRRS), inscribed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1996
Belize Barrier Reef Reserve System is one interconnected system comprised of seven marine protected areas located along the length of the barrier reef, the shelf lagoon and offshore atolls.
It is the largest barrier reef in the Northern hemisphere and represents all the main reef and coastal habitats, including rare littoral forest on sand cayes that are home to endangered flora and fauna.
The largest reef complex in the Atlantic-Caribbean region it represents the second largest reef system in the world.
The seven protected areas that constitute the BBRRS comprise 12% of the entire Reef Complex.
The network of protected areas is large enough to maintain the necessary ecological processes and support the BBRRS for the long term.
Its geographic spread and diversity enhance its resilience, an essential factor in this time of climate change with its risks of coral bleaching, stronger and more frequent hurricanes and sea level rise.
The Belize Barrier Reef Reserve System (BBRRS), inscribed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1996, is comprised of seven protected areas;
- Bacalar Chico National Park and Marine Reserve,
- Blue Hole Natural Monument,
- Half Moon Caye Natural Monument,
- South Water Caye Marine Reserve,
- Glover’s Reef Marine Reserve,
- Laughing Bird Caye National Park and
- Sapodilla Cayes Marine Reserve.
The Belize Barrier Reef Reserve System (BBRRS) is unique in the world for its array of reef types contained in a relatively small area.
As the longest barrier reef in the Northern and Western Hemispheres and distinctive on account of its size, array of reef types and the luxuriance of corals thriving in a pristine condition it provides a classic example of the evolutionary history of reefs and reef systems.
The rise and fall of sea level over the millennia, coupled with natural karst topography and clear waters, results in a diverse submarine seascape of patch reefs, fringing reefs, faros, pinnacle reefs, barrier reefs as well as off-shelf atolls, rare deep water coral reefs and other unique geological features such as the Blue Hole and Rocky Point where the barrier reef touches the shore.
The spectacular picturesque natural setting of brilliant white sand cayes and verdant green mangrove cayes is in dramatic contrast to the surrounding azure waters.