[Coral-List] 50 Reefs Initiative

Noah van Hartesveldt nvanhart at gmail.com
Thu Mar 2 08:22:16 EST 2017

Hi Nadia and all,

You made a point about addressing the question of WHY reefs and ecosystems are worth conserving. A recent conversation with an Uber driver has convinced me, albeit anecdotally, that a fair portion of the general public in America has no perceivable answer to this question. 

After discussing some reasons reefs were worth saving using the analogy of a reef to a city, he became interested and eager to see more reef conservation. For many people, it's been years since they've taken any science class. Even many fellow college students I've spoken with know little beyond the basic fact that reefs are dying. 

Living in urban areas (or any place not on the coast, really) fosters a sense of detachment and apathy that will likely halt further public policy. Positivity and obtainable goals are important, but so is an ability for the average non-scientist to relate to the magnitude of the issue. 

Thank you,

Noah van Hartesveldt

> On Mar 1, 2017, at 15:59, Nadia Jogee <nadiajogee88 at gmail.com> wrote:
> Hi All,
> I too am responding due to the ‘Speak Up’ thread. I am an early career
> conservationist and therefore often feel intimidated (for good reason) by
> the discussions on this thread despite always reading them. So here I am
> speaking up.
> As for the 50 reefs initiative I must say I’m on the fence. As previously
> discussed there are many pros and cons.
> I feel strongly that we must accept that the world is changing and we do
> not have an infinite supply of resources. Therefore our efforts must be
> focused on the areas where they will be most effective. Yet, I can see that
> disregarding 90% of our world's reefs seems incredibly pessimistic. These
> issues have been discussed in depth in previous responses so I won’t
> reiterate what has been said. What I will do is just add a couple of
> comments.
> As well as my academic career I have spent time working in public
> aquariums. I feel strongly that in order to make any real conservation
> impact we must impress upon the public WHY it is important to protect
> ecosystems. Without funding from wealthier countries, countless projects
> around the world (and not just coral related) would not be occurring.
> However, people need a reason to invest and to lobby their governments into
> caring and contributing. Now, I can’t speak for every country, but I feel I
> can comment about the British public. People feel disillusioned by hearing
> how dire the situation is. They want to hear good news; they like to hear
> success stories. Unlike the research community I generally feel the public
> won’t think about the other 90%, I may be wrong here, but I think they’ll
> hear that we’re saving the ’50 most pristine reefs’ and feel good about
> that. Saying we need to save ‘ALL reefs’ sounds like an undoable task, but
> the 50 most pristine, ‘well ok, that’s achievable!’ (Especially considering
> I once asked a group of 30 university undergrads how many reefs they
> thought there were in the world and the average answer was around 50!)
> They’ll feel like we’re getting somewhere, rather than constantly telling
> them doom and gloom. That I think is a good thing and I think that the 50
> Reefs initiative could just be the start of a much wider project. With the
> correct public backing it can surely be expanded.
> Secondly, I would point out that although I don’t know how exactly they are
> going to assess which are the 50 they will be focusing on, I feel that not
> all 50 should tick the same boxes. We need a variation. We should choose
> reefs that are currently showing no signs of bleaching, but not so
> economically important, whilst working with reefs that are being bleached
> that are economically important. It would seem foolish and insulting to
> ignore the millions of people who rely on reefs that are being damaged
> severely. Yet I see it as critical to protect reefs that may act as refugia
> for future reefs, even if corals do not expand from those geographical
> regions for millennia.
> So as I say I’m on the fence with this one, but keen to see how the project
> will develop. I also say good luck to the team pursuing this endeavor, any
> publicity and conservation efforts is much needed and admired. As a
> community we should be supportive of one another, sharing information and
> offering constructive advice. Of all the sciences, conservation science is
> one of those that can do without the selfish needs to publish first, which
> I have seen leads to lack of cooperation. Instead we need to be supportive
> of others’ projects as long as we can see some worth and there’s no doubt
> that the 50 Reefs project has much.  (Though I appreciate as an early
> career conservationist my mortgage doesn’t depend on the pressure to
> publish, only my chances of a PhD studentship!)
> Best wishes,
> Nadia
> -- 
> Best Wishes,
> Nadia Jogee
> *https://uk.linkedin.com/in/nadia-jogee-15281240
> <https://uk.linkedin.com/in/nadia-jogee-15281240> *
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