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Rules proposed to save the world's coral reefs
Date:5/11/2009

a, and Kimbe Bay in Papua New Guinea.

These rules are:

  1. allow margins of error in extent and nature of protection, as insurance against unforeseen threats;
  2. spread risks among areas;
  3. aim to create networks of protected areas which (a) protect all the main types of reef creatures, processes and connections, known and unknown; (b) achieve sufficient protection for each type of reef habitat type, and for the whole region; (c) achieve maximum protection for all reef processes (d) contain several examples of particular reef types to spread the risk;
  4. protect whole reefs where possible; place buffer zones around core areas.
  5. allow for reef species to spread over a range of distances, especially 20󈞊 km; and
  6. use a range of conservation approaches, including marine protected areas.

The rules are designed to operate in a range of situations, including where detailed scientific knowledge of local coral reefs and their species is sparse, the team says in a review article in the journal Coral Reefs.

Protecting reef connectivity and allowing reef species to freely recharge depleted areas is vital to ensuring that coral reefs remain resilient in the face of mounting human and climatic pressures. To ignore the protection of connectivity until sufficient scientific data was available on all reefs would mean allowing reefs to continue to degrade for many decades to come.

"The risks of inadequate management arising from ignoring connectivity are greater than those associated with any scientific uncertainty," the researchers say.

Their review paper "Management under uncertainty: guide-lines for incorporating connectivity into the protection of coral reefs" appears in the latest issue of the journal Coral Reefs. Its authors are L. J. McCook, G. R. Almany, M. L. Berumen, J. C. Day, A. L. Green, G. P. Jones, J. M. Leis, S. Planes, G. R. Russ, P. F. Sale and S. R. Thorrold. The
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Contact: Laurence MCook
l.mccook@gbrmpa.gov.au
61-074-750-0787
ARC Centre of Excellence in Coral Reef Studies
Source:Eurekalert

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