Since then it has become renowned as the largest barrier reef in the Western Hemisphere. Nearly km long, it runs from the northern border of the country, where it is only about 1km offshore, south to the Sapodilla Cayes which lie some 40km offshore.
In the Reserve System was designated a World Heritage Site due to its vulnerability and the fact that it contains the most important and significant natural habitats for in-situ conservation of biological diversity according to criteria VII, IX, and X. Belize became the first country in the world to completely ban bottom trawling in December Other threats include hurricanes, along with global warming and the resulting increase in ocean temperatures,  which causes coral bleaching.
The first mass bleaching occurred inwith an estimated mortality of 10 percent of coral colonies, according to a report by the Coastal Zone Management Institute in Belize. A second mass-bleaching event occurred, when Hurricane Mitch struck in Biologists observed a 48 percent reduction in live coral cover across the Belize reef system.
Usually, it is hard to distinguish whether the reason for coral bleaching is human activities or natural reasons such as storms or bacterial fluctuations.
But in the case of the Belize Barrier Reef, many factors which make the distinction difficult do not apply. Human population in this area is much more sparse than the corresponding areas near other coral reefs, so the human activity and pollution are much lower compared to other coral reefs and the Belize reef system is in a much more enclosed area.
When coral bleaching occurs, a large part of the coral dies, and the remaining part of the ecosystem begins the process of repairing the damage. But the chances of recovery are low, as corals that are bleached become much more vulnerable to disease. Disease often kills more corals than the bleaching event itself.
With continuous bleaching, the coral reef will have little to no chance of recovery.The Belize Barrier Reef Reserve System is located about half a mile from the windward side of the island, where you can find several Belize Barrier Reef resorts.
It is the longest barrier reef in the Western Hemisphere and the second longest in the world. East of the Barrier Reef are three separate atoll reefs. A large portion of the reef is protected by the Belize Barrier Reef Reserve System, which includes seven marine reserves, cayes, and three atolls.
It totals km² in area, including Glover’s Reef Marine Reserve, Great Blue Hole, Halfmoon Caye Natural Monument, Hol Chan Marine Reserve.
The Belize Barrier Reef spans miles of the country’s coastline and is the largest reef system in the Northern Hemisphere. As the largest and most intact reef system within the Northern Hemisphere, the Belize Barrier Reef comprises seven (7) key marine reserve zones, over four hundred cayes (islands) and three (3) atolls.
Belize Barrier Reef The Great Belize Barrier Reef - A World Heritage Site One of the world’s great natural wonders, The Belize Barrier Reef, running some miles ( km) along Belize’s Caribbean coastline, is the largest reef system in the northern hemisphere, and the world’s second largest after Australia’s Great Barrier Reef.
The Belize Barrier Reef Reserve System comprises seven protected areas along the largest barrier reef in the northern hemisphere and includes atolls, several hundred sand cays, mangrove forests. Belize Barrier Reef Reserve System. The coastal area of Belize is an outstanding natural system consisting of the largest barrier reef in the northern hemisphere, offshore atolls, several hundred sand cays, mangrove forests, coastal lagoons and estuaries.