The 50 Reefs initiative aims to rapidly bolster existing coral reef conservation efforts globally by catalyzing new targeted action and investment in key geographies. It will identify and protect coral reefs that are least vulnerable to climate change, that also have the greatest capacity to repopulate other reefs over time.
Some coral reefs are far more vulnerable to climate change than others. Their ability to repopulate other reefs also varies dramatically from one reef to another. Some reefs are too remote, some are too degraded, others are very limited in biodiversity. The 50 Reefs initiative starts with a vital scientific study, overseen by a panel of the world's leading experts. It will identify where we should be prioritizing our efforts globally, to ensure the long-term survival and recovery of coral reefs.
We are not saying we should abandon any existing conservation efforts. On the contrary, we encourage all coral reef conservation efforts - they can all make a difference. However, science can help us focus new conservation effort when it is most critically needed.
50 Reefs uses an innovative approach to protecting our oceans, bridging science, conservation and communications.
A panel of the world's leading coral reef scientists have begun the process of identifying reefs that are least vulnerable to climate change and that also have the greatest capacity to repopulate other reefs over time. This landmark scientific study, lead by our Scientific Steering Group (SSG), will do so by using key criteria that will be used to develop the list of reefs through the deployment of a decision algorithm using datasets such as reef biodiversity, climate vulnerability and reef connectivity. The study is being led by The Centre of Excellence in Environmental Decisions at The Global Change Institute, University of Queensland. This global study - the first of its kind - will be based on the best available science, and will be a transparent process visible to all, with details of the study to be published.
Communication surrounding the 50 Reefs initiative will be to inspire public and stakeholder support - not just for the protection of the 50 Reefs sites, but also to inspire immediate climate action around the world. The Ocean Agency is highly experienced in this kind of communication and are the subject of an award-winning documentary about revealing the coral reef crisis called Chasing Coral - a film that is soon-to-be-released on Netflix. The Ocean Agency are the pioneers of underwater 360-degree photography, inventing the camera that took Street View underwater - technology that allows them to take unique imagery that has been used by all major global media over the last 5 years. Their aim is to make stories from the initiative front page news to support the work of the science and conservation teams.
The 50 Reefs initiative aims to protect the reefs identified from local threats by advocating for national and local protections for critical marine areas and important species. This will be done through partnerships with governments, local organizations, stakeholder groups, and other community members. While the scientists are at work developing the list of 50 Reefs the conservation team (led by the Wildlife Conservation Society) will go through an exhaustive process of investigating the best strategies to achieve effective protection, working with the NGO community to produce a series of white papers and strategies ready for implementation when the list is published later this year.