Mesoamerican Reef | WWF

Mesoamerican Reef

© Antonio Busiello/WWF-Guatemala/Mesoamerica

OVERVIEW

© WWF Guatemala

The Mesoamerican Reef is the largest transboundary reef system in the world and contains the world's second longest barrier reef. The system stretches across four countries, along more than 1,000 km of coastline and is a hotspot for biodiversity including endangered marine turtles, more than 60 types of corals and more than 500 fish species.

Millions of tourists visit the region each year, drawn by the opportunity to dive in remote locations, swim with the world's largest congregation of whale sharks, and relax on incredibly scenic beaches. Ironically, these activities and the related coastal development threaten the very resource on which they depend. WWF is working together with communities, governments and other non profit and academic organizations to renew the integrity of this delicate reef system and secure its resources for generations.

WHY IT MATTERS

Not only does the MAR represent unique biodiversity that warrants protecting, but it also provides critical ecosystems services vital to communities. About two million people depend directly on the MAR’s marine resources for their survival. The reef provides essential ecosystem functions to coastal communities, protecting the coast from severe storms and supporting commercial and local fisheries, local consumption and tourism.

WHAT WWF IS DOING

WWF works from ridge to reef to protect the Mesoamerican Reef System because the health of the marine environment is critically tied to inland and coastal activities. Conservation is achieved by integrating efforts in the upper watersheds, agricultural plains, coastal zones and the marine environment to address the largest threats to ecosystem integrity. Our work is focused on reducing the footprint of commercial agriculture, fisheries and local industry; promoting climate change adaptation and mitigation; and minimizing the impact of tourism and coastal development.

FROM RIDGE TO REEF

WATERSHEDS

WATERSHEDS

We work on critical watersheds that drain into the Mesoamerican Reef, to ensure fresh water and ecosystems conservation. We do this by joining efforts with our partners, for the benefit of nature and communities.

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COASTS

COASTS

As people flood to the coasts for better opportunities and sustenance, the pressure on coastal resources grows. We work with governments and other stakeholders across the Mesoamerican Reef to develop integrated, climate-smart and science-based solutions to address these threats.

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OCEANS

OCEANS

Marine resources sustain millions of people and a wealth of biodiversity. By promoting sustainable fisheries and a resilient network of marine protected areas, our work helps find the balance between natural resource use and conservation of biodiversity.

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