The New York Times, which despite recent controversy remains one of the most widely read newspapers in the United States, recently lauded Belize for its conservation efforts in protecting the Belize Barrier Reef.
Measuring more than 200 miles long, the Belize Barrier Reef is the second-largest coral reef system in the world, second only to Australia's Great Barrier Reef. The Belize Barrier Reef was added as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1996 but was classified as being "in danger" due to decades of mismanagement and exploitative fishing practice. In June 2018, the United Nations declared that the reef was being removed from its "World Heritage Sites in Danger" list.
Since 1996, the government of Belize had made great progress in restoring the reef, classifying half of its territory as a national park or protected conservation area with strict limitations on fishing and other activities. In 2017, the government imposed a strict ban on all offshore drilling on the reef despite the potential for significant revenue. And in 2018, the government began a phase-out of all single-use plastic bags and plastic utensils to help reduce pollution that can pose a choking hazard or even death to marine wildlife on the reef.
The New York Times had high praise for Belize, noting that as a small, developing country, Belize has become a role model for other nations in the region. The New York Times quoted Fanny Douvere, the UN coordinator for UNESCO's marine sites as saying, "The government of Belize has truly made a transformational shift in recent years," preferring to focus on the long-term tourism benefit of a healthy reef over short-term gains from overfishing and petroleum extraction.
Caves Branch Jungle Lodge welcomes the good news from the United Nations as the lodge has a long-term commitment towards protecting and preserving the natural environment. Caves Branch Botanical Garden is now home to the country's collection of orchids and air plants- which are being researched conservation scientists.
Caves Branch is also a proud partner of the "Pack for a Purpose" program that pairs visitors with extra space in their luggage with local schools. Visitors are encouraged to pack in educational supplies like pens, paper, pencils, books, flashcards, and other school items for donation to local schools serving underprivileged children in Belize.
Caves Branch Jungle Lodge also works with beach resorts to offer guests Belize "jungle and sea" vacations that allow them to experience all the best that both the mainland and offshore reef have to offer.