Conserving Caribbean coral reefs

Despite their beauty and biodiversity, coral reefs are fragile ecosystems that are increasingly under threat from human activity and climate change. EU researchers are helping to boost the Caribbean's capacity to preserve and protect its reefs.

The management of coral reefs for the 21st century not only requires an understanding of its natural processes, but also how people interact with these fragile ecosystems. Coral reefs provide important services to fisheries, tourism and coastal defence, which are under threat from extraction, development and climate change.

Caribbean countries, where 43 million people depend upon the reefs for their livelihood, need practical and relevant management measures in order to protect and preserve these ecosystems. Therefore, 20 organisations from 10 countries in the Caribbean along with Australia, Europe and the United States joined forces to develop sustainable management tools.

The EU-funded FORCE (Future of Reefs in a Changing Environment (FORCE): An ecosystem approach to managing Caribbean coral reefs in the face of climate change) project employed the latest scientific knowledge to develop management practices that minimise damage to reef health and stem the loss of biodiversity. Partners conducted field visits, literature reviews, experimental studies and computer-based modelling, which focused on the causes of reef loss in the Caribbean. It also charted the physical, ecological and governance processes that influence reef health.

FORCE has developed a range of resources for disseminating the project's results, including a coral reef manger's handbook, a web geographic information system and the Reef Health Simulator. Throughout the project's lifetime field research on governance and livelihoods engaged with policymakers, practitioners, stakeholders and the general public.

Research activities culminated in two separate workshops for practitioners and the reef manager's handbook, providing valuable tools and information. The six Caribbean partners also participated in discussions with governments and exchanges with other research and scientific institutes in the region.

The FORCE project will therefore play an important role in helping local communities adapt to climate change in the Caribbean region.

last modification: 2015-09-21 09:27:25

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