[Coral-List] 50 reefs initiative

Gus Fordyce GusFordyce.2011 at my.bristol.ac.uk
Sun Feb 26 09:33:39 EST 2017

Hey everyone,

I'm in the infancy of my science career and so susceptible to being pulled
in several directions by well argued and opposing opinions. Thanks to the
coral-list admin, Jim, for encouraging us amateurs to speak up!

Just wanted to try and start a conversation about the recently launched 50
reefs initiative, that aims to preserve at least 10% of the world's coral
reefs for future generations. My hope is that your collective wealth of
opinions makes for some good brain food!

Some of my thoughts: I think it shows realism given the long term trend of
non-stop reef decline. I also think that those surviving reefs hold the key
to understanding how we can positively intervene with minimal ecological
impact outside of our goal (e.g. Through assisted evolution, translocation,
ecological engineering). It's good to see large, private companies backing
global conservation goals; they're a powerful entity and one that, if
guided by solid science, have the potential to exert considerable
influence. I would hesitate to say that governments, rather than individual
companies, have more to answer for when it comes to the inaction around
global reef conservation.

BUT, it seems rather pessimistic and I fear sets a goal that leaves ample
room for complacency when in fact we need urgency. Coral reefs have always
surprised us in the past, from rapid recovery and evolution to the mere
existence of corals in the toasty waters of the Arabian Sea. I think that
the most pristine can be identified and research channeled towards them;
but let's do it with a view of learning lessons that we can use to save
those less fortunate to hold the status of pristine.

Whenever I hear about triaging, I am reminded of the story of the Mauritius
Kestrel and the valiant effort of Carl Jones who brought the species back
from the brink of extinction, one breeding pair to over fifty in the space
of twenty years. Of course one is a species, the other is an ecosystem. But
optimism need not be lost just yet!

Looking forward to hearing all your thoughts,


Alexander Fordyce

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