Pollution,overfishing,and overuse have put many of our unique reefs at risk. Their disappearance would destroy the habitat of countless species. It would unravel the web of marine life that holds the potential for new chemicals, new medicines, unlocking new mysteries. It would have a devastating effect on the coastal communities.
The single most important strategy for the future of coral reefs is to reduce the amount of climate change that occurs. Preventing massive damage to ecosystems on a global scale cannot be done without reducing greenhouse gas emissions and taking steps to slow down global climate change.
This module of the Reef Resilience Toolkit focuses on the problem of coral bleaching and actions that managers can take to address this problem, specifically in the context of marine protected areas. Given the scope of global climate change and the recent mass bleaching events that have occurred in every ocean, many managers may assume that there is little that can be done on a local scale. However, there are strategies and approaches that managers can employ to minimize the impacts of bleaching events, as well as build resilience to a variety of other major stressors into the natural systems they manage.
While this toolkit emphasizes coral bleaching, the recommendations and tools can be applied to most threats that coral reefs face today. To achieve resilience managers need to focus on the most pervasive threats to coral reefs which include land-based sources of pollution, over-fishing, and climate change. Managers should work to support coral community health and ecosystem function, and in doing this will decrease the impacts of these killer threats.