Mapping Threatened Coral Reefs

by Matt Ball on February 23, 2011

Coral reefs, the most biodiverse ecosystems in the ocean, have been facing local and global pressures for some time. In an updated report titled, Reefs at Risk Revisited by the World Resources Institute (WRI), this pressure has reached the point that 75% percent of the world’s reefs are threatened, and 30% of endangered reefs identified in the initial report of 1996 have seen their threat level increase.

Local pressures include overfishing, destructive fishing practices such as using dynamite, coastal development, and pollution from both land and sea. Globally, coral reefs are harmed by greenhouse gas emissions, coral bleaching from rising sea temperatures and ocean acidification due to higher carbon dioxide levels.

While these threats are on the rise, and our current response mechanism have been inadequate, there is hope for better management. According to the report 6% of the world’s coral reefs are in marine protected areas (MPAs) that are considered well-managed. MPAs are a local response that can be replicated and improved. However, to save coral reefs, cutting emissions, particularly carbon dioxide which is causing ocean acidification, need to be addressed.

You can view an interactive map of endangered reefs worldwide, indexed by their threat level, here.


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