24 Feb 2011:
Local and Global Risks Threaten
75 Percent of Coral Reefs, Report Says
Seventy-five percent of the planet’s coral reefs are already threatened by a variety of local and global pressures
, including pollution, overfishing, and the effects of climate change, a comprehensive new analysis by the World Resources Institute (WRI) says. The most immediate risks come from local
factors, with coastal development, pollution and “destructive” fishing degrading more than 60 percent of coral reefs today, according to the report. But the added effects of climate change, including coral bleaching and ocean acidification
, could make more than 90 percent of the world’s reefs vulnerable by 2030 — and nearly all reefs by 2050. The most vulnerable areas are in the Caribbean, Southeast Asia, East Africa, and the Middle East. The report
, which was compiled with numerous partner organizations including the Nature Conservancy and the Coral Reef Action Network, recommends policies to better protect and manage coral resources, including the designation of more marine protected areas and stricter oversight of existing protected areas. “Reefs are resilient, and by reducing the local pressures we can buy time as we find global solutions to preserve reefs for future generations,” said Lauretta Burke, a senior associate at the WRI and lead author of the report.
Yale Environment 360 is
a publication of the
Yale School of Forestry
& Environmental Studies
Yale Environment 360
articles are now available in Spanish and Portuguese on Universia
, the online educational network. Visit the site.
Business & Innovation
Policy & Politics
Pollution & Health
Science & Technology
Antarctica and the Arctic
Central & South America
Photographer Robert Wintner documents the exquisite beauty and biodiversity of Cuba’s coral reefs, which are largely intact thanks to stifled coastal development in the communist nation. View the gallery.
is now available for mobile devices at e360.yale.edu/mobile
The Warriors of Qiugang
, a Yale Environment 360
video, chronicles a Chinese village’s fight against a polluting chemical plant. It was nominated for a 2011 Academy Award for Best Documentary Short.
Watch the video.
Top Image: aerial view of Iceland
. © Google & TerraMetrics.
A three-part series Tainted Harvest
looks at the soil pollution crisis in China, the threat it poses to the food supply, and the complexity of any cleanup. Read the series.