Scientists join forces for new drive to save coral reefs from climate change

The fight is on to save the world’s coral reefs from the devastating effects of climate change. Scientists, conservations and politicians are joining forces to prevent the loss of the living structures, which are under threat from warming seas. They are backing an action plan drawn up by the presidents of three tiny countries, Palau, Micronesia and the Marshall Islands, which depend on the reefs for tourism. They say better collaboration is needed between the scientific community and local governments - and there needs to be more funding and a strengthened commitment to conservation.

If our coral reefs are further degraded, then our reef-dependent communities will suffer and be displaced

Call to action from the three presidents

The action plan was drawn up to put before the largest international gathering of coral reef experts, which has just ended in Hawaii. In response to the presidents’ appeal, scientists at the conference said they would work together to save the reefs. They say the call is especially prescient as 2016 is the third year in the row that the reefs will be affected by potentially fatal bleaching. In the northern third of the Great Barrier Reef, close to half of the corals have died in the past three months. “That’s an absolute catastrophe,” said James Cook University professor Terry Hughes.

We are not ready to write the obituary for coral reefs

Prof Terry Hughes, from James Cook University