Coral reefs offer a range of benefits to humans; they protect shorelines from strong waves, purify oceans, provide homes for many food fish and marine life, as well as are beautiful places to swim around. But, as scientists are discovering around the world, coral reefs are in trouble, affected by many problems including pollution, hotter oceans, overfishing, storm damage, ocean acidification etc.
This has raised concerns and highlighted the need to act to conserve these delicate ecosystems.
But just how bad is the situation?
This is where science can play an important role. Scientific research can be used to identify problems and provide solutions to these problems. It can also be used to provide evidence to improve government decisions.
Ever heard that pandas are Endangered, or elephants are Vulnerable, or dodos are Extinct? All these animals were assessed using the Red List of Threatened Species (RLS) – a framework specifically designed to calculate the conservation status of individual species. The Red List of Ecosystems or RLE framework, does exactly the same thing, but instead of focusing on species, it looks at ecosystems like tropical rainforests, savannah grasslands or coral reefs.
Governments and organisations across the world have used the classifications from the RLS to develop important policies and laws to protect threatened species. In the same way, a reliable classification that clearly shows the endangered status of an ecosystem, makes it much easier to convey the message to politicians and the public at large, thereby encouraging increased protection of coral reefs to safeguard both the animals and people that value them!
CORDIO, with support from coral reef scientists working in 9 countries from across the region, will calculate the status of reefs in 12 sub-regions of the WIO in 2019. Currently, we are coming close to completing the analysis phase, with some preliminary results scheduled to be ready by mid-October.
The results will be used to raise awareness on the need to protect, conserve and sustainably use coral reefs to benefit human beings, biodiversity and the environment at large!