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Coral reefs are critical for risk reduction & adaptation
Date:5/13/2014

Curt Storlazzi a co-author from USGS. "This research shows that coral reef restoration can be a cost-effective way to decrease the hazards coastal communities face due to the combination of storms and sea-level rise."

"While there are many concerns about the future of corals reefs in the face of climate change," Dr. Fiorenza Micheli of Stanford University said, "there are still many reasons for optimism about the future of coral reefs particularly if we manage other local stressors such as pollution and development."

The study found that there are 197 million people worldwide who can receive risk reduction benefits from coral reefs alone or may have to bear higher costs of disasters if the reefs are degraded. These are people in villages, towns, and cities who live in low, risk prone coastal areas (below 10m elevation) and within 50 km of coral reefs.

Conservation efforts are most often directed to more remote reefs, however the study suggests there should also be a focus on reefs closer to the people who will directly benefit from reef restoration and management. In terms of number of people who receive risk reduction benefits from coral reefs, the top 15 countries include:

  1. Indonesia, 41 million
  2. India, 36 million
  3. Philippines, 23 million
  4. China, 16 million
  5. Vietnam, 9 million
  6. Brazil, 8 million
  7. United States, 7 million
  8. Malaysia, 5 million
  9. Sri Lanka, 4 million
  10. Taiwan, 3 million
  11. Singapore, 3 million
  12. Cuba, 3 million
  13. Hong Kong, 2 million
  14. Tanzania, 2 million
  15. Saudi Arabia, 2 million

Additionally, major investments are being made in artificial defense structures such as seawalls for coastal hazard mitigation and climate adaptation. The study shows that the restoration of coral reefs for coastal defense may be as low as 1/10 the cost of building artificial breakwaters. Reef defenses can be enhanced in a cost-effective manner through restor
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Contact: Leslie Gordon
lgordon@usgs.gov
650-329-4006
United States Geological Survey
Source:Eurekalert

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