Belize Barrier Reef Platform Essay

1488 words - 6 pages

While the human population continues to grow so does the need for land to contain the growth. In man’s attempt to fulfill this need we find that we are encroaching on lands used for diverse wildlife and plant-life. The problem comes from the fact that when man moves into these new areas he usually takes over and in the process damages or destroys ecosystems that were in place. This loss of ecosystems equates to the loss of animal species and also plant species. This is happening in our world at an alarming rate. One issue that should be sending up a big red flag is that no one knows how the loss of these plants and animals is going to affect our planet. Luckily there are groups established such as the World Heritage Group which work to preserve these areas and unique ecosystems along with their plant and animal life. One such place is the Belize Barrier Reef platform which lies on the Atlantic-Caribbean coast of Belize. The Reserve was inscribed as a natural World Heritage property in 1996 and belongs to the Central American biogeographically province. It is made up of the following areas: Bacalar Chico National Park and Marine Reserve, the northernmost part of Ambergris Caye, the west area of Chetumal Bay, Laughing Bird Caye National Park, Half Moon Caye Natural Monument, Blue Hole Natural Monument, Glover’s Reef Marine Reserve, South Water Caye Marine Reserve and Sapodilla Cays Marine Reserve. As you can see this is a vast area encompassing many places it is good to see that all of these places are now under government and civilian protection. (www.eoearth.org)

What do these areas contain which makes them so important that they need to be protected? There is a vast amount of vegetation found in the area. In fact 178 species of vascular plants, including 32 non-native species make up the vegetation found. These are broken down into three distinct areas. They are the Mangrove forest which is made up of three major types of mangrove trees; the Buttonwood, the Red mangrove and the White mangrove. Next there is the Littoral forest. There are four types of trees which make up the Littoral forests and they are the Ziricote Cordia sevestena, the Teabox Myrica cerifera, the Gumbo Limbo Bursera simaruba and the Coco Plum Chrysobalanus icaco. Last, the Littoral forests are fringed by various shrubs such as the Tournefortia ganaphalodes, the Suriana maritime and the Borrichia arborescens. There is also the Coconut tree Cocos nucifera and the Sea Grape Coccoloba uvifera. Other types of vegetation found in this area include; Herbaceous – marsh and swamp, Rushes, Sedges, Calabash Amphitecna breedlovei, Bullet Tree Bucida buceras, Jacquinia aurantiaca, Grass savannas, A. breedlovei, Logwood Haematozylon campechianum and Poison Wood Cameraria latifolia. Some of these species of vegetation are found no where else in the world but here. All of these are land flora. There are also a total of 247 taxa of marine...

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