Coral Reef Conservation

November 05, 2001


Provided by: UNEP World Conservation Monitoring Centre
Summary authors & editors: Martin Ruzek; UNEP World Conservation Monitoring Centre

Scientists who have compiled the most detailed assessment to date of coral reefs have shown that these precious marine ecosystems occupy a much smaller area of the planet than previously assumed. Although distributed in 101 countries and territories, where they are vital for fisheries, coastal protection, tourism and wildlife, they occupy less than one tenth of one percent of the oceans. The findings give new urgency to protect and conserve these important, valuable and seductively beautiful habitats which are under increasing threat from human activities. The World Atlas of Coral Reefs, prepared by the United Nations Environment Programme World Conservation Monitoring Centre (UNEP-WCMC) provides a new global estimate for coral reefs world-wide: 284,300 sq km, an area just half the size of France.

Marine parks serving ecotourists,such as the diver above in the Saba Marine Park, Netherlands Antilles, are generating income and employment for local people, while protecting precious marine resources.

Photo credit: Mark D. Spalding

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