Coral reefs occur in more than 100 countries and territories and whilst they cover only 0.2% of the seafloor, they support at least 25% of marine species and underpin the safety, coastal protection, wellbeing, food and economic security of hundreds of millions of people. The value of goods and services provided by coral reefs is estimated at US$2.7 trillion per year, including US$36 billion in coral reef tourism. However, coral reefs are among the most vulnerable ecosystems on the planet to anthropogenic pressures, including global threats from climate change and ocean acidification, and local impacts from land-based pollution such as input of nutrients and sediments from agriculture, marine pollution, and overfishing and destructive fishing practices.
Maintaining the integrity and resilience of coral reef ecosystems is essential for the wellbeing of tropical coastal communities worldwide, and a critical part of the solution for achieving the Sustainable Development Goals under the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.
The Global Coral Reef Monitoring Network (GCRMN) is an operational network of the International Coral Reef Initiative that aims to provide the best available scientific information on the status and trends of coral reef ecosystems for their conservation and management. The GCRMN is a global network of scientists, managers and organisations that monitor the condition of coral reefs throughout the world. The GCRMN operates through 10 regional nodes.
The flagship product of the GCRMN is the Status of Coral Reefs of the World report that describes the status and trends of coral reefs worldwide. This sixth edition of the GCRMN Status of Coral Reefs of the World report is the first since 2008, and the first based on the quantitative analysis of a global dataset compiled from raw monitoring data contributed by more than 300 members of the network. The global dataset spanned more than 40 years from 1978 to 2019, and consisted of almost 2 million observations from more than 12,000 sites in 73 reef-bearing countries around the world.
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The Sixth GCRMN Status of Coral Reefs of the World: 2020 report is the result of a more than three-year effort, supported by an extensive broad network of partners, contributors and scientists whose commitment to the monitoring and conservation of coral reefs is gratefully acknowledged.
The production of this milestone report would only have been possible through the voluntary contributions of the 300 contributors, from 73 reef bearing countries surmounting to over 2 million data observations. We specifically thank all the contributors and organizations, who are named throughout this report, for their generous offer of data, information and time including the analysis of data, production of regional chapters and knowledgeable boxes throughout, recognising the assistance in the editing and proof reading, especially the reviewing of regional chapters, often at very short notice.