Environmental Threats
and Challenges

Climate Change
Beach Erosion, Placencia Peninsula, BelizeClimate change affects every facet of the Placencia Peninsula environment, including declining water quality in the Placencia Lagoon caused by  higher water temperatures, declining health of coral and seagrass environments, beach erosion, fewer fish and plankton, acidification of the Caribbean Sea, rising sea levels, hotter weather, stronger storms and flooding, and damage to wetlands and mangroves through higher sea levels, increased flooding, storm damage and loss of sedimentation.

Diseased and dying coral (photo by Rachel Graham)Corals are particularly susceptible to climate change, with some reefs expected to be gone by 2020.  And, as goes the reef, so goes much of the rest of the marine environment because coral has such a critical function in our seas and oceans.  It protects shorelines, mangroves and seagrass beds from strong waves, provides a home and food for many, many varieties of fish and other marine life, takes up carbon out of the atmosphere thereby somewhat mitigating the effects of global warming, and even provides human medicines.

But, climate change, as a result of too much carbon in the atmosphere is killing our coral - not only here in Belize, but all over the world.

“The major emerging threat to coral reefs in the last decade has been coral bleaching and mortality associated with global climate change.” (Status of Coral Reefs Around the World, 2004)

But it is not just the Great Barrier Reef at risk, all reefs are at risk, including the Belize Reef, which is particularly vulnerable due to stress from dredging and coastal development -- and, unfortunately, doesn't benefit from the same level of protection given to the Great Barrier Reef.

Fortunately, people and groups on the Peninsula are working to improve conditions that affect coral reefs and to limit the effects of climate change on the Peninsula, including:

  • Monitoring operations of local resorts and hotels that can increase the effects of climate change through sewage run-off and other water-borne pollution;
  • A program by the Placencia Moorings Masters to install boat moorings to help prevent reef damage by boat anchors;
  • Advanced guide training through the Placencia Guide Association and the Placencia Tourism Center to help limit inadvertent damage to corals by inexperienced snorkelers and divers;
  • Replanting mangroves to stabilize shorelines when sea levels increase and to provide protection against more and stronger tropical storms and hurricanes;
  • Greater pressure on national agencies such as the Departments of the Environment, Forests, Fisheries and Geology to enforce laws regulating mangrove removal, destruction of corals, water usage and sewage disposal; and
  • Coral restoration in locations such as Laughing Bird Caye.

Peninsula Citizens for Sustainable Development

General Delivery
Placencia, Belize