Climate Adaptation & Lessons Learned From Community Engagement in Belize

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September 27, 2017

Elizabeth McLeod, Climate Adaptation Scientist from The Nature Conservancy, shares the latest scientific guidance to help managers determine social and ecological vulnerabilities to climate change and other stressors. In addition, Dareece Chuc, Environmental Education and Communication Director from the Belize Audubon Society, shares successes, challenges and lessons learned implementing the LEAP (Local Early Action Planning and Management) Tool in Belize.

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Leading coral science and conservation organizations joining forces to accelerate vital reef restoration work

Photo © Coral Restoration Foundation

Photo © Coral Restoration Foundation

We are pleased to announce the formation of a new Coral Restoration Consortium (CRC). The CRC is a community of practice that comprises scientists, managers, coral restoration practitioners, and educators dedicated to enabling coral reef ecosystems to adapt and survive the 21st century and beyond. The CRC’s mission is to foster collaboration and technology transfer among participants, and to facilitate scientific and practical ingenuity to demonstrate that restoration can achieve meaningful results at scales relevant to reefs in their roles of protecting coastlines, supporting fisheries, and serving as economic engines for coastal communities.

The Reef Resilience Network will be working in partnership with experts from the Coral Restoration Consortium to develop expanded resources for managers on restoration. New online content will be available in October 2017 and will cover the following topics prioritized by a survey of coral reef managers globally:

  • Key considerations to be made before starting a restoration program
  • Methods for propagating branching corals and massive corals
  • Using artificial structures in restoration
  • Promoting ecological processes that enhance coral populations
  • Guidance for enhancing and sustaining your restoration program

To get involved with the CRC:

  • Learn more about the Coral Restoration Consortium
  • CLICK HERE to receive e-mail updates on the CRC’s development, newsletters with scholarly information on restoration, quarterly webinar announcements, and information on how to join Working Groups
  • Watch restoration webinars


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New Techniques for Coral Restoration in the Caribbean

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May 18, 2017

Hear experts from the Global Coral Restoration Project provide an overview of coral restoration efforts around the world and discuss current obstacles and potential solutions. This seminar kicks off an in-person workshop designed to foster exchange between practitioners working in the fields of coral science, restoration, aquaculture and marine resource management. Explore the seminar presentations and learn about coral restoration from the experts!

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Adaptation Design Tool for Natural Resource Management – Minnesota, 2017


The Reef Resilience Network partnered with NOAA and EPA to host a 1.5 hour training on Adaptation Design Tool for Natural Resource Management at the National Adaptation Forum on May 11, 2017. The training session provided an interactive introduction to the Adaptation Design Tool that walks practitioners through steps for adjusting the design of their management activities to be more climate-smart. Participants got a brief ‘how to’ on the tool, along with an illustrative case study presentation, and hands-on work to apply adaptation design to example management activities for Puerto Rican coral reefs. A more extensive version of the Adaptation Design Tool will be launched this summer in the form of an online course and instructor-led training as part of the Reef Resilience Toolkit.
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New Techniques for Coral Restoration Seminar

Ellen%20Muller%20spawning%20Dlab%20smallSECORE International hosted a workshop at the Carmabi Marine Research Station Curaçao from May 18th – 27th. The opening day of the workshop started with a seminar to provide a global picture of coral restoration, discussing current obstacles and potential solutions. View the recordings of the presentations below.

Spawning Diploria labyrinthiformis with butterfly fish feeding on spawn. Photo © Ellen Muller


This online seminar and workshop is part of the Global Coral Restoration Project initiated by SECORE International, California Academy of Sciences and The Nature Conservancy, and further supported by CARMABI Foundation, Curaçao Sea Aquarium, Columbus Zoo and Aquarium, Shedd Aquarium as well as State of Hawaii Division of Aquatic Resources.

The workshop aims to foster exchange between participants and organizers, working in the fields of coral science, restoration, aquaculture and marine resource management. The workshop is comprised of hands-on work, such as rearing coral larvae from daylight spawner Diploria labyrinthiformis, practicing the art of micro-fragmentation and outplanting techniques, as well as theoretical sessions on how to select outplanting sites and monitor restoration efforts.

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New Resource on Community-Based Climate Adaptation


We recently launched our new Community-Based Climate Adaptation module which complies the latest scientific guidance and tools to help managers assess social and ecological vulnerability to climate change and other stressors. We interviewed Lizzie McLeod, our lead climate adaptation scientist, to learn about the importance of community-based climate adaptation and some of the associated benefits. Check out our conversation below!

RR: Why is community-based climate adaptation important for coral reef managers?

EM: Community-based adaptation is important for reef managers because in many cases, community responses to climate change involve management actions that aim to protect coral reefs. Reefs can help to buffer coastlines from storm impacts and sea-level rise and protect reef fisheries to maintain food security, thus their protection can help communities to be more resilient to climate change. Communities who are less vulnerable to climate change are less likely to exploit their natural resources. Coral reef managers can help to highlight the impacts of climate change on coral reef ecosystems and priority management actions to protect them. They may also be able to access climate adaptation funds which can be significant to support projects which help to build the resilience of coastal communities and reef systems.

RR: What are some of the benefits associated with community-based adaptation? 

EM: Community-based adaptation is a vital part of responding to climate change. Communities, especially those in coral reef areas, are often on the front lines of climate change (e.g., experiencing flooding and erosion from sea-level rise and storms, coral bleaching, changes in ocean chemistry, saltwater intrusion into water sources, and changes in the productivity of food trees and gardens). Community-driven adaptation actions are more likely to address local concerns, values, and priorities than top-down adaptation actions and can empower communities to plan for and cope with climate impacts. They often provide cost-effective strategies to address climate change by building on local knowledge and experiences dealing with climate variability and change. If implemented effectively, then can also ensure that communities are engaged in all levels of adaptation planning and implementation.

RR: If there is one thing managers should know about climate adaptation what would it be? 

EM: No matter what actions are taken globally to address climate change, even if greenhouse gas emissions were stabilized today, communities will still face impacts of climate change. Scientists project that sea levels will continue to rise due to thermal expansion and the atmosphere will continue to warm for at least a century, if not longer, based on the current amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere and ocean. Therefore, adaptation efforts will only increase in importance as we work towards implementation of the goals set forth by the Paris Agreement to keep global temperatures below 2°C above pre-industrial levels and to pursue efforts to limit temperature increase to 1.5°C.

Take a deeper dive into our Community-Based Climate Adaptation Module to learn more!

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Integrating Ecosystem Services into Coral Reef Policy and Management – Hawai’i, 2017


The Reef Resilience Network partnered with Blue Solutions to host a five-day training on Integrating Ecosystem Services into Coral Reef Policy and Management on March 6-10, 2017. Experts and participants from 12 different agencies gathered in Kona, Hawaii to gain experience in evaluating ecosystem services and how to effectively communicate the benefits they provide to people to guide decision making and inform management within their jurisdiction. The workshop included a field trip to the Four Seasons Resort Hualalai and Kiholo Bay, where participants applied their new skills to identify the ecosystem services each place provides. Over the week, participants became familiar with different tools and resources for assessing and valuing ecosystem services and learned how to navigate and create maps with Mapping Ocean Wealth. Next steps for the participants include sharing key concepts and messages about ecosystem services within their jurisdiction and incorporating learned skills into their work, projects and plans. To see photo highlights from this training view here.
Check out this video from NOAA’s Office of Coastal Management, to better understand ecosystem services and learn about various tools to use when evaluating the benefits and values. Watch here.
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Year in Review

In 2016, The Reef Resilience Network convened hundreds of marine resource managers, scientists, and decision-makers to inspire greater collaboration, share cutting-edge resilience science, and improve management decisions.

The International Coral Reef Symposium and World Conservation Congress offered ideal venues to further this work, as well as share lessons learned during the Network’s ten years. Notable scientific contributions include our research collaboration with Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute to identify coral reef refuges in Palau in the face of increasing thermal stress and ocean acidity.

Take a look at our Year in Review to see our latest efforts in helping marine managers manage  coral reefs more effectively. 


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Building Coral Reef Resilience Through Assisted Evolution

There is concern that elevated sea temperatures and ocean acidification may influence the resilience of coral reefs, inherently affecting their vital role of providing the structure which maintains ecosystem services around the world. This review explores the idea of artificially enhancing the ability of reef building organisms to handle stress and accelerate recovery after impact. While there is concern that artificially manipulated organisms may have a biological advantage over endemic species, corals are good candidates for assisted evolution. The authors advocate that stress exposure to natural stock, active modification of community composition of coral symbionts, selective breeding, and laboratory breeding of the symbionts all warrant research attention. As controversy continues to surround these ideas, it is important to consider that assisted evolution strategies such as these may increase the adaptive capacity of corals, perhaps allowing them to better respond to environmental and anthropogenic stressors more easily, in turn directly enhancing resilience.

Author: van Oppen, M.J.H., J.K. Oliver, H.M. Putnam, and R.D. Gates
Year: 2015
View Abstract
Email for the full article:

Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 112(8): 2307-2313

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