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.
We cannot rely on science alone to save coral reefs. The 50 Reefs global plan focuses on conservation and communication as well as science:
A panel of the world's leading coral reef scientists, coordinated by the Global Change Institute, will undertake a scientific study that will rank reefs worldwide through deploying a 'decision algorithm' developed at The Centre for Excellence in Environmental Decisions (www.ceed.edu.au) at The University of Queensland. This panel will identify key criteria based on geography, diversity, and resilience to climate change to be used to identify the 50 most critical coral reefs to protect using datasets such as reef biodiversity, climate vulnerability and reef connectivity. It will be the first global study of its kind. The process of identifying the reefs will be based on the best science available and will be a transparent process visible to all, with details of the study to be published.
The aim of the communication team will be to inspire public and stakeholder support, not just for the protection of the 50 Reefs, but also to inspire immediate climate action. 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.