Coral reef ecosystems around the world are facing serious threats from the impacts of rapid climate change. Rising ocean temperatures are causing corals to bleach and die at an alarming rate and it is estimated that 70–90% of the world’s corals could disappear by 2050 even if emission reductions goals are met.
All of this news about coral die-off can leave us feeling helpless as coral reef ecosystems cover vast underwater areas. The thought of replanting corals by hand, even on a local scale can seem like a futile task, and if we are to have any lasting affect, identifying resilient coral habitats around the globe may be our best approach to preserving coral reefs for future generations.
50 Reefs is a global initiative which set out to do just that, identity 50 coral reefs around the world which are least vulnerable to climate change and have the highest potential for regenerating in the future. 50 Reefs give us hope of a future where carbon emission are stabilized and a stronghold of 50 reefs persist to become a critical source of coral larvae for the rest of the world’s oceans.
In June 2018 scientist from the Global Change Institute at The University of Queensland published a report in the journal Conservation Letters outlining 50 reefs which have a heightened chance of surviving projected climate changes relative to other reefs.
The team identified these reefs using a mathematical approach called Modern portfolio theory which weighs the risk or vulnerability of a certain reef, over its potential resilience, or highest expected return on conservation investment. The 50 locations outlined in the report represent important opportunities for conservation investments on well-connected coral reefs that may, in turn, help to repopulate degraded areas in the future.
The 50 Reefs initiative has resulted in the first-ever research of its kind to create a global portfolio of coral reefs anticipating climate-related risks.
The 50 Reefs initiative was funded by Bloomberg Philanthropies, The Tiffany & Co. Foundation and Paul G. Allen Philanthropies. It was created in partnership with The Ocean Agency, Underwater Earth, the Global Change Institute at The University of Queensland and the Wildlife Conservation Society.