The Sixth Edition of the Sixth Global Coral Reef Monitoring Network (GCRMN) Status of Coral Reefs of the World Report: 2020 was launched on October 5th 2021. 

This flagship product of the GCRMN describes the status and trends of coral reefs worldwide.

This sixth edition is the first since 2008, and the first based on the quantitative analysis of a global dataset compiled from raw monitoring data contributed by more than 300 members of the network.

The global dataset spanned more than 40 years from 1978 to 2019, and consisted of almost 2 million observations from more than 12,000 sites in 73 reef-bearing countries around the world.

The Executive Summary, Global Analysis and Regional Chapters are now all available to download at https://gcrmn.net/2020-report/

Pacific Region – Status of Coral Reefs of the World Report: 2020

Helen Sykes, as GCRMN Fiji national coordinator, was a contributor to the Pacific Region Chapter – Status of Coral Reefs of the World Report: 2020.

Status of Coral Reefs of the World Report: 2020

The principal outputs of the GCRMN have been periodic global and regional assessments of the status and trends of coral reef ecosystems. However, the last report was released in 2008 creating a significant gap in contemporary understanding of global status and trends in coral reefs.

The GCRMN is released its sixth edition of its flagship product: The Status of Coral Reefs of the World during a virtual launch event on Tuesday 5th October 2021.

The release coincides with key upcoming biodiversity and climate change meetings, namely the 15th meeting of the Conference of the Parties to the UN Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD COP15) and the UN Climate Change Conference (COP26), to provide decision makers with the best available scientific information on the status and trends of coral reef ecosystems for their conservation and management.

The report demonstrates that key indicators of coral reef health and condition, that are recommended by ICRI for inclusion in the new Post-2020 Global Biodiversity Framework, are feasible and provide really important information for decision making.

The Report in Numbers

The Status of the World Coral Reefs 2020 report:

  • Is the first in 13 years
  • Examines the status of the world’s coral reefs over the last 40 years
  • Represents the work of more than 300 scientists from the global scientific community
  • Is founded on a global dataset comprised of almost 2 million observations
  • In 73 countries
  • Across 10 GCRMN regions

Key Report Findings

  • Around 14% of coral reefs died in a nine-year period between 2009 and 2018 and in the last 10 years, algae on reefs has increased by about 20% – a clear sign of reef stress and decline.
  • Coral reefs across the world are under relentless stress from warming and acidification caused by climate change.
  • Although the rate and extent of coral decline is severe, there are signs that some coral reefs can recover if left undisturbed. Immediate and drastic action to reduce CO2 emissions will help more coral to recover and survive into the future.
  • During the last decade, the interval between mass coral bleaching events has been insufficient to allow coral reefs to recover, although some recovery was observed in 2019 with the world’s coral reefs regaining 2% of the coral cover that was previously lost.

Executive Summary

Coral reefs occur in more than 100 countries and territories and whilst they cover only 0.2% of the seafloor, they support at least 25% of marine species and underpin the safety, coastal protection, wellbeing, food and economic security of hundreds of millions of people.

The value of goods and services provided by coral reefs is estimated at US$2.7 trillion per year, including US$36 billion in coral reef tourism.

However, coral reefs are among the most vulnerable ecosystems on the planet to anthropogenic pressures, including global threats from climate change and ocean acidification, and local impacts from land-based pollution such as input of nutrients and sediments from agriculture, marine pollution, and overfishing and destructive fishing practices.

Maintaining the integrity and resilience of coral reef ecosystems is essential for the wellbeing of tropical coastal communities worldwide, and a critical part of the solution for achieving the Sustainable Development Goals under the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

The Global Coral Reef Monitoring Network (GCRMN) is an operational network of the International Coral Reef Initiative that aims to provide the best available scientific information on the status and trends of coral reef ecosystems for their conservation and management.

The GCRMN is a global network of scientists, managers and organisations that monitor the condition of coral reefs throughout the world. The GCRMN operates through 10 regional nodes.

The flagship product of the GCRMN is the Status of Coral Reefs of the World report that describes the status and trends of coral reefs worldwide. This sixth edition of the GCRMN Status of Coral Reefs of the World report is the first since 2008, and the first based on the quantitative analysis of a global dataset compiled from raw monitoring data contributed by more than 300 members of the network.

The global dataset spanned more than 40 years from 1978 to 2019, and consisted of almost 2 million observations from more than 12,000 sites in 73 reef-bearing countries around the world.

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UNEP Data Visualisation

UNEP has created a dynamic data visualization that distils the report findings for non-scientists in all UN languages, plus Portuguese, Bahasa Indonesia and Swahili with an aim to: generating increased media coverage in regions; getting coverage in more mainstream media outlets; and wider interest from public. 

The Sixth GCRMN Status of Coral Reefs of the World: 2020 report is the result of a more than three-year effort, supported by an extensive broad network of partners, contributors and scientists whose commitment to the monitoring and conservation of coral reefs is gratefully acknowledged. 

The production of this milestone report would only have been possible through the voluntary contributions of the 300 contributors, from 73 reef bearing countries surmounting to over 2 million data observations. We specifically thank all the contributors and organizations, who are named throughout this report, for their generous offer of data, information and time including the analysis of data, production of regional chapters and knowledgeable boxes throughout, recognising the assistance in the editing and proof reading, especially the reviewing of regional chapters, often at very short notice

Status of Coral Reefs of the World Report: 2020
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