Partnering for Change to Save Coral Reefs

Partnering for Change to Save Coral Reefs

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At CORAL, our mission is Saving the World’s Coral Reefs. That means finding a solution to the biggest threat facing corals today- climate change.

Troubled by warming ocean temperatures and mass coral bleaching events, we launched the Modeling Adaptation Potential (MAP) Project in 2016 to ask a critical question: Can coral reefs adapt to and survive the effects of climate change?

Coral reef in Cordelia Banks, Honduras

Even the remote reefs of Cordelia Banks, Honduras are showing signs of coral bleaching.

To answer this question, CORAL assembled a working group of experts in coral reef ecology, evolutionary biology and conservation science to figure out if corals can adapt to life on a warming planet and what we can do to help. Scientists from Rutgers University, the University of Washington, the University of Queensland and Stanford came together under CORAL’s guidance to analyze how different conservation solutions perform through time using a suite of mathematical models.

MAP Project

The MAP Project team in Roatán, Honduras.

The initial results of the MAP Project were published in Nature Climate Change in July 2019, and provide hope for coral reefs by showing that, with the right approaches to conservation, we can help corals evolve to endure rising temperatures. The group found that conservation actions like reducing water pollution and overfishing can help coral health so that they’re better able to take the heat. Many of these solutions can be implemented immediately– and with the effects of climate change only increasing, we have little time to waste.

Today we’re acting swiftly by leading the MAP Project team to create actionable conservation guidelines that will be used around the world. We recently hosted the MAP Science Advisory Group meeting in Roatán, Honduras, where our team began to synthesize research into regional coral reef management plans for the Caribbean, Pacific, and Coral Triangle. CORAL is also partnering with The Nature Conservancy’s (TNC) Caribbean Program to determine where and how to implement their coral restoration efforts to achieve their goal of restoring one million corals across the Caribbean.

TNC scientist

Dr. Steve Schill of The Nature Conservancy (TNC) surveying reefs in Honduras.

By partnering with scientists, conservation organizations, and local reef managers, we’re promoting adaptation as a solution for coral reefs and turning science into action to save coral reefs for generations to come.

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