A new report on Coral Reef Restoration launched today kickstarts the launch of the United Nations Decade of Ecosystem Restoration and of the United Nations Decade of Ocean Science for Sustainable Development.
The report was launched via a webinar which was co-sponsored by the Reef Resilience Network, the International Coral Reef Initiative, the United Nations Environment Programme, and the National Environmental Science Programme.
Coral reefs are some of the most ecologically and economically valuable ecosystems on our planet. Covering less than 0.1 per cent of the world’s ocean, they support over 25 per cent of marine biodiversity and serve up to a billion people with a wide range of ecosystem services such as coastal protection, fisheries production, sources of medicine, recreational benefits, and tourism revenues.
However, they are also on the frontline of the climate crisis due to their sensitivity to warming seas. As much as 50 per cent of our coral reefs have already been lost. According to recent reports by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), up to 90 per cent of reef-building corals could be lost by 2050, even if warming is limited to an increase of 1.5°C.
We can’t afford to lose this valuable ecosystem. As we strive to accelerate climate action to halt global warming, there is great urgency to protect our remaining reefs. How to do this is the subject of a new report by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) and the International Coral Reef Initiative (ICRI), which concludes that well-planned, well-funded and long-term coral reef restoration can be a useful tool to support coral reef resilience.
The report entitled, Coral reef restoration as a strategy to improve ecosystem services, aims to assist practitioners, managers, and decision-makers to consider whether and how to use coral reef restoration as a strategy to protect coral reefs locally, regionally and globally.
The report suggests coral reef restoration strategies follow four critical principles: 1) planning and assessing around specific goals and objectives, 2) identifying adaptive strategies to mitigate risks, 3) engaging local stakeholders and communities in all stages of the restoration efforts, and 4) developing long-term monitoring plans to allow for adaptive management and to improve the understanding of restoration effectiveness for specific goals.
Photo by: K. Custodio Gudczinski