Impacts of climate change on World Heritage coral reefs: a first global scientific assessment

Heron, Scott F., Eakin, C. Mark, Douvere, Fanny, Anderson, Kristen, Day, Jon C., Geiger, Erick, Hoegh-Guldberg, Ove, van Hooidonk, Ruben, Hughes, Terry, Marshall, Paul, and Obura, David (2017) Impacts of climate change on World Heritage coral reefs: a first global scientific assessment. Report. UNESCO World Heritage Centre, Paris.

Download (883kB) | Preview


Since 1972, the UNESCO World Heritage Convention has united the world around a shared responsibility to protect natural and cultural places of Outstanding Universal Value (OUV). The World Heritage List includes 29 natural, marine properties that contain coral reef systems. Stretching around the planet, these globally significant reefs include icons such as the Phoenix Islands Protected Area (Kiribati), the Great Barrier Reef (Australia), Papahānaumokuākea (USA), Belize Barrier Reef Reserve System (Belize) and Tubbataha Reefs Natural Park (Philippines). They are recognized for their unique and global importance and for being part of the common heritage of humanity. Coral reefs are ecologically and economically important ecosystems found across the world’s tropical and sub-tropical oceans. Despite covering less than 0.1% of the ocean floor, reefs host more than one quarter of all marine fish species (in addition to many other marine animals). They are the most inherently biodiverse ecosystems in the ocean – comparable to rainforests on land. These ‘Rainforests of the Sea’ provide social, economic and cultural services with an estimated value of over USD $1 Trillion globally. For example, the complex three-dimensional structure of reefs not only provides habitat but also dissipates wave energy to protect coastlines from erosion and damage. Coastal protection and human use (including tourism, recreation and fishing) supply the greatest economic benefits from coral reefs to over half a billion people around the world. Despite their importance and value, most coral reefs are under enormous pressure from a range of different human activities globally including agricultural run-off, urban development, and over-fishing. Superimposed on these local threats, increased ocean temperature has caused the death of corals around the world in recent years. At this point, rising atmospheric carbon dioxide caused by human activity is the greatest threat to coral reefs globally, primarily due to ocean warming but also due to ocean acidification that ensues.

Item ID: 57870
Item Type: Report (Report)
Related URLs:
Copyright Information: © UNESCO, 2017. This report is open access via the publisher's website.
Date Deposited: 26 Aug 2019 03:08
FoR Codes: 05 ENVIRONMENTAL SCIENCES > 0501 Ecological Applications > 050101 Ecological Impacts of Climate Change @ 25%
05 ENVIRONMENTAL SCIENCES > 0502 Environmental Science and Management > 050205 Environmental Management @ 25%
02 PHYSICAL SCIENCES > 0203 Classical Physics > 020399 Classical Physics not elsewhere classified @ 50%
SEO Codes: 96 ENVIRONMENT > 9603 Climate and Climate Change > 960310 Global Effects of Climate Change and Variability (excl. Australia, New Zealand, Antarctica and the South Pacific) @ 70%
96 ENVIRONMENT > 9608 Flora, Fauna and Biodiversity > 960808 Marine Flora, Fauna and Biodiversity @ 20%
96 ENVIRONMENT > 9603 Climate and Climate Change > 960303 Climate Change Models @ 10%
Downloads: Total: 131
Last 12 Months: 13
More Statistics

Actions (Repository Staff Only)

Item Control Page Item Control Page