A Guide to Assessing Coral Reef Resilience for Decision Support
Maintaining and restoring resilience is now a major focus of most coral reef managers around the world. A focus on resilience gives us options - and hope - in the face of new and often daunting challenges.
Underpinning this is the fact that local actions can positively influence the future of coral reefs, despite powerful external forces like climate change. As examples, coral recovery from disturbances in Bermuda and the Bahamas has been greater in recent decades than in other parts of the Caribbean. Differences in recovery rates in the Caribbean have been partially attributed to establishing and enforcing fishing regulations, especially on key herbivores such as parrotfish (Jackson et al. 2014). Overall though, the application of resilience theory to management planning and the day-to-day business of coral reef management has been challenging. One of the key stumbling blocks has been the lack of a robust and easily implementable method for assessing coral reef resilience in a way that can inform marine spatial planning and help to prioritize the implementation of management strategies.
Our ability to assess relative resilience of coral reefs has advanced dramatically in recent years, and we are now at a point where a feasible and useful process can be recommended for use in environmental planning and management. This Guide presents a 10-step process for completing a resilience assessment, putting into managers' hands the means to assess, map and monitor coral reef resilience, and the means to identify and prioritize actions that support resilience in the face of climate change. The guidance presented here represents the culmination of over a decade of experience and builds on ideas first presented by West and Salm (2003), Obura and Grimsditch (2009), and McClanahan and coauthors (2012).
This guide is first and foremost intended for the individuals in charge of commissioning, planning, leading or coordinating a resilience assessment. The Guide also provides a resource for 'reef managers' of all kinds, including decision-makers, environmental planners and managers in coral reef areas, with influence over pressures affecting coral reefs. Outreach coordinators and educators working in coral reef areas may also benefit from the Guide, and they can participate in parts of the resilience assessment process, but the Guide focuses on the needs of decision-makers and the scientists who support them.
Maynard, J.A., Marshall, P.A., Parker, B., Mcleod, E., Ahmadia, G., van Hooidonk, R., Planes, S., Williams, G.J., Raymundo, L., Beeden, R., Tamelander, J. (2017). A Guide to Assessing Coral Reef Resilience for Decision Support. Nairobi, Kenya: UN Environment. ISBN No: 978-92-807-3650-2
Appearing as solitary forms in the fossil record more than 400 million years ago, corals are extremely ancient animals that evolved into modern reef-building forms over the last 25 million years. Continue Reading →
coral reef conservation program
The NOAA Coral Reef Conservation Program (CRCP) is a partnership between the NOAA Line Offices that work on coral reef issues: the National Ocean Service, the National Marine Fisheries Service, the Office of Oceanic and Atmospheric Research, and the National Environmental Satellite, Data and Information Service. The CRCP brings together expertise from across NOAA for a multidisciplinary approach to managing and understanding coral reef ecosystems.
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