- Date: March 17, 2011
WWF’s vision for a network of well-managed marine protected areas in the Mesoamerican Reef (MAR) is a step closer to reality with the recent announcement by the German Government that it will provide 5 million Euros (approximately $6.9 million) for the sound management of key protected areas on the reef over the next five years. KfW, the German Development Bank, has recognized that to protect this world-class coral reef, which spans four countries – Mexico, Belize, Guatemala and Honduras – it must take a regional approach.
To do that, it has awarded the funding to the MAR Fund, which was established at the initiative of WWF in 2004 to coordinate, fund and implement multi-national reef conservation strategies across national country boundaries.
The Mesoamerican Reef Ecoregion stretches across 1000 km of coastline from the Yum Balam Flora and Fauna Protection Area on the tip of the Yucatan Peninsula to the Bay Islands of Honduras, crossing four international boundaries. As an interconnected barrier reef system, it represents one of the most important economic and ecological assets in the Atlantic Ocean.
The Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) of the Mesoamerican reef are vital to its conservation and are integral to a broader global network of MPAs designed to conserve the marine heritage and life-support system of the world and ensure that living marine resources are used in an ecologically sustainable manner. The world urgently needs to sustain and continue to expand this comprehensive system of MPAs to conserve biodiversity and to help rebuild the productivity of the oceans. MPAs can help achieve the three main objectives of living resource conservation as defined in the World Conservation Strategy (IUCN, 1980):
- To maintain essential ecological processes and life support systems;
- To preserve genetic diversity; and
- To ensure the sustainable utilization of species and ecosystems.
The MAR Fund’s MPA Initiative includes an initial network of 14 priority coastal and marine protected areas representing some of the foundational ecological centers of the Mesoamerican Reef Ecosystem. Together, they create a backbone of biological resources central to the health of the whole system. The KfW grant will help sustain this network, initially targeting four key protected areas and exploring opportunities to support 5 additional high priority areas in the future, to ensure the health, biodiversity, and sustainable use of the Mesoamerican Reef System.
This significant investment on the part of the German Government is a testament to the leadership role the MAR Fund now plays in the preservation of the Mesoamerican Reef Ecosystem.
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