Our directory of things of interest

University Directory

Belize's blue period

Belize's blue period
24 Feb
2018
Belize bans offshore oil extraction to protect the second longest barrier reef in the world

Much of Belize’s 400-kilometre coastline is fringed with atolls, cayes and blue holes, which together make up the largest barrier reef in the world outside of Australia. To protect them, the Belizean government has announced a landmark ban on exploring and extracting offshore oil.

The decision comes in response to decades of environmental campaigning . After the 2013 Deepsea Horizon oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, such campaigns resulted in a temporary suspension of exploration by the Belize Supreme Court. When the ban ended, however, the Belizean government drafted new guidelines leaving most of the coast available for development. The new ban offers a total end to exploration – good news for the estimated 50 per cent of the population who rely on the reef for fisheries and tourism.

Belize is a developing country and oil is among its top exports. However, the economic benefits of maintaining the reef for a £165million reef tourism industry was seen as a higher concern. The nation joins other Central American countries that have prioritised environmental issues and tourism benefits over resource development. In 2014, Costa Rica announced a nationwide ban on oil extraction, while in 2017 El Salvador banned precious metal mining to protect water resources.

While the decision is seen as a triumph of environmentalism, some scientists are sceptical about the benefit to corals. John Bruno, marine biologist and at the University of North Carolina and expert on the Belize reefs emphasises the danger of coral bleaching from warming waters and ocean acidification. He tells Geographical ‘the irony is that oil drilling (and burning) thousands of miles away is the far greater problem.’

This was published in the March 2018 edition of Geographical magazine

geo line break v3

Free eBooks - Geographical Newsletter

Get the best of Geographical delivered straight to your inbox by signing up to our weekly newsletter and get a free collection of eBooks!

geo line break v3

Related items

Subscribe to Geographical!

geo line break v3

Free eBooks - Geographical Newsletter

Sign up for our weekly newsletter today and get a FREE eBook collection!

geo line break v3

University of Winchester

geo line break v3

EDUCATION PARTNERS

Aberystwyth University University of Greenwich The University of Derby

TRAVEL PARTNERS

Ponant

Silversea

Travel the Unknown

DOSSIERS

Like longer reads? Try our in-depth dossiers that provide a comprehensive view of each topic

  • Natural Capital: Putting a price on nature
    Natural capital is a way to quantify the value of the world that nature provides for us – the air, soils, water, even recreational activity. Advocat...
    The human game – tackling football’s ‘slave trade’
    Few would argue with football’s position as the world’s number one sport. But as Mark Rowe discovers, this global popularity is masking a sinister...
    Essential oil?
    Palm oil is omnipresent in global consumption. But in many circles it is considered the scourge of the natural world, for the deforestation and habita...
    Alien views
    The tabloids would have us believe that immigrants are taking our houses, our jobs, our school places and our hospital beds. But a close reading of th...
    When the wind blows
    With 1,200 wind turbines due to be built in the UK this year, Mark Rowe explores the continuing controversy surrounding wind power and discusses the e...

MORE DOSSIERS

NEVER MISS A STORY - Follow Geographical on Social

Want to stay up to date with breaking Geographical stories? Join the thousands following us on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram and stay informed about the world.

More articles in NATURE...

Wildlife

A new system of robotic aerial vehicles is revolutionising the…

Wildlife

Technology used in creating safe urban environments is now being…

Climate

Brazil’s shift to the right of the political spectrum could…

Wildlife

Laura Cole travels to Orkney to find out why numbers…

Wildlife

The unprecedented frequency of winter tick epidemics have resulted in…

Oceans

Ocean debris, mostly composed of plastic, reaches remote Atlantic islands…

Geophoto

With motion detectors becoming ever more sophisticated, and clearer, crisper…

Nature

Natural capital is a way to quantify the value of…

Tectonics

The reason for the unusual location of Mount St Helens…

Climate

Most plants thicken their leaves in response to higher carbon…

Climate

Not just the preserve of flatulent cows, methane is causing…

Climate

As the United States’ Supreme Court delays a landmark climate…

Geophoto

Of Britain's 15 national parks, the New Forest is probably…

Energy

The Treasury has announced that it is considering imposing a…

Tectonics

Major earthquakes are triggering seismic activity half the world away

Climate

Marco Magrini finds that a warming world also means a…

Wildlife

Unchecked tourism is potentially reducing the number of cheetah cubs that…

Oceans

A relocated military base in Okinawa, Japan will cause ‘irreversible’…

Climate

The ongoing recovery of the planet’s ozone layer is being…

Oceans

The Ocean Cleanup has launched System 001, a floating barrier…