Interventions to help coral reefs under global change – a complex decision challenge

Anthony, Kenneth R. N., Helmstedt, Kate J., Bay, Line K., Fidelman, Pedro, Hussey, Karen E., Lundgren, Petra, Mead, David, McLeod, Ian M., Mumby, Peter J., Newlands, Maxine, Schaffelke, Britta, Wilson, Kerrie A., and Hardisty, Paul E. (2020) Interventions to help coral reefs under global change – a complex decision challenge. PLoS ONE, 15 (8). e0236399.

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Climate change is impacting coral reefs now. Recent pan-tropical bleaching events driven by unprecedented global heat waves have shifted the playing field for coral reef management and policy. While best-practice conventional management remains essential, it may no longer be enough to sustain coral reefs under continued climate change. Nor will climate change mitigation be sufficient on its own. Committed warming and projected reef decline means solutions must involve a portfolio of mitigation, best practice conventional management and coordinated restoration and adaptation measures involving new and perhaps radical interventions. We propose that proactive research and development to expand the reef management toolbox fast but safely, combined with expedient trialling of promising interventions is now urgently needed, whatever emissions trajectory the world follows. We discuss the challenges and opportunities of embracing new interventions in a race against time, including their risks and uncertainties. Ultimately, solutions to the climate challenge for coral reefs will require consideration of what society wants, what can be achieved technically and economically, and what opportunities we have for action in a rapidly closing window. Finding solutions that work for coral reefs and people will require exceptional levels of coordination of science, management and policy, and open engagement with society. It will also require compromise, because reefs will change under climate change despiteour best interventions. We argue that being clear about society’s priorities, and understanding both the opportunities and risks that come with an expanded toolset, can help us make the most of a challenging situation.

Item ID: 63971
Item Type: Article (Research - C1)
ISSN: 1932-6203
Copyright Information: © 2020 Anthony et al. This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License.
Funders: Reef Restoration and Adaptation Program (RRAP), Great Barrier Reef Foundation (GBRF)
Research Data:
Date Deposited: 31 Aug 2020 23:31
FoR Codes: 44 HUMAN SOCIETY > 4408 Political science > 440805 Environmental politics @ 50%
37 EARTH SCIENCES > 3705 Geology > 370504 Marine geoscience @ 50%
SEO Codes: 96 ENVIRONMENT > 9607 Environmental Policy, Legislation and Standards > 960701 Coastal and Marine Management Policy @ 70%
96 ENVIRONMENT > 9612 Rehabilitation of Degraded Environments > 961201 Rehabilitation of Degraded Coastal and Estuarine Environments @ 30%
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