Dr. Brian LaPointe / Harbor Branch, Florida Atlantic University

World - We Must Protect Coral Reefs With Conservation Innovation & Technology

Why are we losing the world’s coral reefs? Anthropogenic action, that’s why.

The coral reefs are dying, and they’re the world’s first ecosystems to become extinct because of humans. Rising carbon dioxide emissions are heating the oceans and turning them more acidic. At this point, researchers aren’t hopeful to preserve all the coral reefs — they’re working to ameliorate the devastation.

Conservation innovation and technology alone cannot save reefs, but it can potentially help scientists and environmentalists study, mitigate, and address key challenges facing these cyan, green, and red wonders of the ocean.

Our world is dependent on the planet’s natural systems such as coral reefs. NOAA reminds us that coral reefs protect coastlines from storms and erosion, provide jobs for local communities, and offer opportunities for recreation. They are a source of food and new medicines — over half a billion people depend on reefs for food, income, and protection.

Unesco’s community-focused initiative, Resilient Reefs, was created after data indicated that 21 of its 29 World Heritage-listed coral reef sites were already degraded. The collaboration takes a “macro, holistic view of the reefs’ specific ecosystem and community who depend on it.” They are incorporating a variety of expertise, including social, economic, and cultural resources to provide local people with the hope and agency they need to plan for future habitat changes, including loss of coral reefs.

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