Climate change and coral reefs – key issues and risks for the Maldives

Climate change and coral reefs – key issues and risks for the Maldives

The Maldives is a renowned for its abundant and globally significant marine biodiversity. It contains the largest group of coral reefs in the Indian Ocean.  Its biodiversity includes: Over 1,100 species of reef fishes Over 250 species of corals Green and hawksbill turtles (globally threatened). The Maldivian atoll ecosystems also include a variety of other important habitats, including extensive shallow and deep lagoons, deep slopes, sandy beaches, and mangrove and seagrass areas.

Coral reefs are especially vulnerable to climate change because of the high sensitivity of corals to small changes in environmental conditions. Coral reefs under pressure are less able to provide the services that support human communities, such as food and fisheries income, recreational opportunities and commercial tourism, and protection of vulnerable shorelines. Climate change is therefore a major concern not just for coral reefs, but also for food security, economic prosperity and social wellbeing of communities that depend on them.
 
Thia brief argues that understanding the links between ecosystem health and the fate of coral reefs in a warming climate is the basis for the growing focus on resilience as a basis for coral reef management.
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