TNC coral science team in Grenada works to restore a damaged reef.
Grenada | TNC coral science team teaches young coral gardeners how to outplant healthy corals to restore reefs. © Tim Calver

Stories in the Caribbean

A Revolution to Save Coral Reefs

With advanced protection, restoration and monitoring techniques, we are tackling coral conservation from all sides to save reefs before it’s too late.

Hidden beneath the surface of the sea, coral reefs are among the richest ecosystems on Earth and supply communities around the world with food, livelihoods and protection against environmental threats. Coral reefs benefit approximately 500 million people worldwide each day and provide habitat for 25% of all marine species.

The fishing and tourism industries are the driving economic forces in the Caribbean and they are dependent upon healthy coral reef ecosystems. Reefs also protect communities against the devastating impacts of climate change, including coastal erosion, flooding and life-threatening hurricanes.

Scientists estimate that living coral cover in the Caribbean has decreased by 60% in the past three decades alone, as climate change, overfishing and pollution are causing reef degradation at a catastrophic rate. The Nature Conservancy has been a leader in coral conservation for decades and, today, has a multifaceted approach to restore the long-term health of coral reef ecosystems, increase their resilience to a changing climate and address the threats that have caused their deterioration.

 

Investing in groundbreaking coral reef restoration techniques

We are partnering with leading coral science organizations, including Mote Marine Laboratory and SECORE International, to advance cutting-edge restoration techniques like microfragmentation and facilitated sexual reproduction. With a goal of restoring 1 million corals across the region, innovative science and successful partnerships are making it possible to bring reefs back to life on a large scale.

 

Addressing the root causes of reef degradation

Through several targeted regional programs focused on marine conservation and sustainable fishing, TNC tackles the myriad of threats to reefs. We also work on the ground to train fishers and protected area managers in practices that mitigate the drivers of reef degradation.

Saving Caribbean Reefs The Nature Conservancy is launching a revolution to save coral reefs throughout the Caribbean and beyond.
The Carnegie Airborne Observatory, a high-tech plane
Carnegie Airborne Observatory TNC is partnering with Carnegie's Dr. Greg Asner, creator of this plane equipped with hyperspectral imagery sensors, to gather unprecedented data on Caribbean coral reefs. © Marjo Aho
Deploying cutting-edge technology to monitor and assess coral reefs

By using state-of-the-art remote sensing tools, including satellites, hyperspectral sensors and laser scanners, the condition of coral reefs can now be assessed with more than 90% accuracy. TNC is partnering with Planet and the Carnegie Airborne Observatory, two of the world’s leading specialists in remote sensing science, to complete the first-ever high-resolution map of the Caribbean’s coral reefs and assess their health and chemical composition—allowing us to determine the stress levels of reefs and the concentrations and locations of individual coral species. This data will be used to catalyze marine protections and marine spatial planning, advocate for greater investment in reef conservation and inform ongoing strategy and policymaking.

 

Sharing science and expertise to mobilize global coral action

We are establishing Coral Innovation Hubs in The Bahamas, the Dominican Republic and the U.S. Virgin Islands, which will host a network of coral scientists and practitioners, partner organizations and local stakeholders to advance coral research and promote education. By sharing our science and engaging diverse audiences, we aim to bring about a revolution in coral reef conservation and to mobilize global action so these essential ecosystems will not be lost.

We are accountable to future generations. It is imperative to engage leading scientists, advance innovative coral restoration practices and work collaboratively in order to safeguard these critical ecosystems.

Executive Director, Caribbean Division

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