ICRAN MAR Project
The Mesoamerican Reef system stretches over 1000 km, spanning the eastern coasts of Mexico, Belize, Guatemala and Honduras. It is the largest stretch of reef in the western hemisphere and has been identified as a unique and globally important coral reef ecosystem. Unfortunately the Mesoamerican Reef system is under severe natural and human induced threat that jeopardises the livelihoods and food security of the people in the adjoining Mesoamerican countries who rely on the diverse habitats.
A major outcome of ICRAN during 2003 was the successful negotiation with USAID of a US$1.5 million grant for the ICRAN-Caribbean, with matching funds from the UN Foundation. The geographical scope of the project included primarily the Mesoamerican Caribbean Reef Eco-region (Belize, Guatemala, Honduras & Mexico).
The ICRAN Mesoamerican Reef Alliance (MAR) project was a collaborative effort aimed at confronting the decline of coral reef ecosystems and improving the economic and environmental sustainability of the Mesoamerican Barrier Reef through capacity building activities, the development of better practices, and building of partnerships with the private sector.
The MAR was a multi-pronged programme, which addressed three areas that impact reef health: watershed management, fisheries, and marine tourism, and which encouraged the exchange of knowledge between organisations in the region to achieve the goals of the project.
The 3-year project, made possible through funds generously provided by the UN Foundation and USAID, made excellent advances, and project outputs included the development of tools for the prediction of future land use impacts on the reef, the release of a manual for best fishing practices among local fishermen communities, and the establishment of a Tourism Standards and Code Taskforce - a process lead by the tourism industry that has produced a set of standards and a code of conduct for sustainable marine recreation activities in the MAR.
Project partners are now well positioned to continue capacity building efforts and development of local partnerships and alliances, which will continue to improve sustainable business practices, community-wide support for sustainable tourism and fisheries, and develop future collaborative efforts past project completion.
The ICRAN MAR project is now complete. An outline of each project component with information on activities, outputs and other useful resources, offering a complete ICRAN MAR project archive can be found here:
The International Coral Reef Action Network (ICRAN): A Global Partnership for Coral Reefs, established in the year 2000, is a collaborative effort aiming to halt the trend of degradation of coral reefs worldwide and to maintain the biodiversity, health and productivity of coral reefs and related ecosystems. It is a contribution of the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), World Fish Center (ICLARM), World Resources Institute (WRI), UNEP-World Conservation Monitoring Center (WCMC), Global Coral Reef Monitoring Network (GCRMN), International Coral Reef Initiative (ICRI) Secretariat, Coral Reef Alliance (CORAL), the founding partners, towards the implementation of the Framework for Action of the International Coral Reef Initiative (ICRI), the internationally agreed blueprint for conservation of coral reefs. Within ICRI, a Strategic Plan was developed. This project will implement selected components of that Strategic Plan and attract other donors to implement complementary elements of the Plan.
In 1995, the Wider Caribbean developed its regional Agenda for Action under ICRI and identified UNEP’s Caribbean Environment Programme (UNEP-CEP) as the regional contact point and facilitator for implementation of the ICRI process. Since then, numerous activities have been implemented at the national, sub-regional and regional levels by different organizations and programmes, including UNEP-CEP, which has resulted in greater attention being placed on coral reef issues although not yet at the required levels.