Over the last 2 - 3 decades, a number of global scale threats to coral reefs have emerged – first and foremost being climate change, causing serious declines in coral reef communities around the world.
Increased intensity and frequency of mass coral bleaching requires us to respond with innovative new strategies to protect coral reefs. Building coral reef survivability based on patterns of resistance and resilience into Marine Protected Area (MPA) management strategies is a relatively new concept.
Until recently, resilience had never been explicitly defined or listed as a criterion for MPA selection or MPA design, nor had it been factored into large scale eco-regional planning. Yet the concept of resilience demonstrates that there are positive actions we can take to counter potentially devastating impacts of climate-related bleaching.
There are strategies and approaches that managers can employ to minimise the impacts of bleaching events, as well as build resilience to a variety of other major stressors into the natural systems they manage. Solutions involve both daily management activities and planning for change.
To achieve resilience, managers need to focus on the most pervasive threats to coral reefs, which include land-based sources of pollution, over-fishing, and climate change. In essence, we are trying to:
In 2013, RCM conducted surveys to identify resilient reef areas around the East coast of Peninsular Malaysia. These reefs are critical in re-seeding damaged reef areas. This information was fed back into management plans for the islands to highlight areas that are sensitive to development.