They argue that so-called shifting baselines, when ecosystems degrade and baselines are downgraded from one generation to the next, is at the root of understanding the factors driving coral reef decline and what, if anything, can be done to stop it.
In the essay, titled Shifting Baselines, Local Impacts and Global Change on Coral Reefs, they write: How to manage coral reefs locally in a globally changing world so that they retain or regain the critical ecosystem attributes of uninhabited reefs and still meet human needs is the central challenge facing reef conservation today.
In a world of doom and gloom, it is important to know that reefs with exuberant coral growth and abundant fish populations still exist, said Knowlton. These remote healthy reefs clearly show that local protection can make reefs resilient to the impacts of global change. The challenge is to translate the lessons of these reefs to management, so that reefs near people can also thrive.
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University of California - San Diego