Conservationists have unveiled plans to preserve and protect the world’s most important species of coral, in a response to increasing threats that they say will lead to “functional extinction” within decades.
Led by scientists at the Zoological Society of London, the Edge Coral Reefs project has identified 10 coral species in most urgent risk of becoming extinct.
The scientists say that reefs are under pressure from a variety of threats including rising sea temperatures due to climate change, increased acidity, overfishing and pollution.
The Edge plan, which focuses on the most evolutionarily distinct and globally endangered species will take a regional approach to conservation.
This means focusing on the “coral triangle” around the Philippines, the west Indian ocean around the Mozambique channel, and in the Caribbean channel.
“Coral reefs are threatened with functional extinction in the next 20-50 years, due predominantly to global climate change,” said Catherine Head, co-ordinator of the reefs project. “In these regions, we’ll be supporting and training in-country conservationists to carry out research and implement targeted conservation actions,” she said.
“Their projects will last initially for two years. We provide them with a whole host of tools to carry out their projects including funding and intensive training.”
Coral reefs are the planet’s most diverse marine ecosystem