WildCam Puts Spotlight on Belize Barrier Reef

Partnership Will Raise Awareness Of World Heritage Sites

Barcelona, Spain

October 7, 2008


Megan Rabbitt

During the IUCN World Conservation Congress, the United Nations Foundation, National Geographic Society and the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) announced today the launch of WildCam Belize Reef, an innovative remote-imaging tool for research and conservation. WildCam Belize Reef will be the first long-term deployment of an open-ocean, live, streaming video system available to the public. It is also the latest addition to the National Geographic WildCam program and is the pilot project for a new series that aims to engage new audiences in the protection and preservation of World Heritage around the globe. The Belize Barrier Reef Reserve System was designated a World Heritage site by UNESCO in 1996.

“WildCam Belize Reef is a wonderful way to highlight the beauty and biodiversity of the Belize Barrier Reef World Heritage site,” said Erika Harms, Executive Director of Sustainable Development at the United Nations Foundation. “We are excited to kick start this partnership to help provide individuals with access to some of the world’s most treasured places.”
The first of its kind, WildCam Belize Reef uses cutting-edge, live-streaming video technology which will allow viewers all over the globe to watch the daily activities of one of the most diverse and productive underwater ecosystems on earth. The Belize Barrier Reef Reserve System is part of the second largest barrier reef in the world and is home to countless fish, turtles, marine mammals, coral and more.

“National Geographic is excited about this innovative conservation initiative, utilizing technology to connect people to the world’s last remaining wild places via the internet,” said John Francis, Vice President of Research, Conservation, and Exploration, National Geographic Society. “WildCam and programs like it, will revolutionize the way we use technology to conserve and protect the natural world.”

“Coral Reefs, such as the Belize Barrier Reef Reserve System, are incredibly productive and diverse ecosystems. In addition, they are vital to ocean health and the world economy, providing food, marine habitat, ingredients for medicines and income from tourism,” said Julia Marton-Lefèvre, Director General, IUCN. “IUCN hopes the WildCam will be used as a tool to promote global awareness about the importance of conserving our natural resources”

The Belize Barrier Reef Reserve System is one of 878 World Heritage sites around the world.  These sites are internationally recognized for their outstanding value as natural and cultural heritage to humanity. Sites currently on the World Heritage List include Independence Hall, Stonehenge, the Galapagos Islands, the wildlife reserves of the Democratic Republic of Congo, the historic Centre of Prague, the Pyramids of Egypt and the Great Wall of China. All sites are protected by the 1972 World Heritage Convention, signed to date by 185 countries and administered by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO).  To learn more, visit http://whc.unesco.org.

Individuals will be able to watch live-streaming video from Wild Cam Belize Reef at http://video.nationalgeographic.com/video/wildcambelize. Individuals interested in learning more about World Heritage sites can visit www.friendsofworldheritage.org. Individuals interested in learning more about ocean protection can visit www.protectplanetocean.org.


About the UN Foundation
The UN Foundation, a public charity, was created in 1998 with entrepreneur and philanthropist Ted Turner’s historic $1 billion gift to support UN causes and activities. The UN Foundation is an advocate for the UN and a platform for connecting people, ideas and resources to help the United Nations solve global problems.

About IUCN
IUCN is the world’s oldest and largest global environmental network – a democratic membership union with more than 1,000 government and NGO member organizations, and almost 11,000 volunteer scientists in more than 160 countries.

About National Geographic Society
The National Geographic Society is one of the world’s largest nonprofit scientific and educational organizations. Founded in 1888 to “increase and diffuse geographic knowledge,” the Society works to inspire people to care about the planet. It reaches more than 325 million people worldwide each
month through its official journal, National Geographic, and other magazines; National Geographic Channel; television documentaries; music; radio; films; books; DVDs; maps; exhibitions; school publishing programs; interactive media; and merchandise. National Geographic has funded more
than 9,000 scientific research, conservation and exploration projects and supports an education program combating geographic illiteracy. For more information, visit www.nationalgeographic.com.

Press Contacts:
Amy DiElsi, UN Foundation
202-419-3230, adielsi@unfoundation.org

Barbara Moffet, National Geographic Society

Sarah Horsley, IUCN