Since 1995, the Global Coral Reef Monitoring Network (GCRMN), an operational network of the International Coral Reef Initiative (ICRI) has nurtured a global community dedicated to coral reef conservation by providing a platform to exchange data and share knowledge, expertise, innovative ideas and diverse perspective.
Utilising data from a range of techniques, from ground-level surveys to cutting-edge technology, GCRMN assimilates comprehensive assessments of coral reef status and trends, tracking the pulse of these priceless ecosystems.
“We cannot manage a system that we do not understand” is an often-heard phrase. The GCRMN’s influential reports on the status and trends of coral reefs provide a trusted source of information to the global community, based on rigorous scientific methods. Accurate information on the status of coral reefs is essential to assess their condition, identify changes over time, and predict future outcomes. This creates a powerful force for change, equipping stakeholders, managers, and policy makers with the information needed to address threats, build resilience and protect coral reefs at local, national, and international levels. This evidence-based management and policymaking is needed more than ever, as climate change impacts are a reality and local pressures on coral reefs continue largely unabated (Kleypas et al. 2021, Knowlton et al. 2021).
The most recent GCRMN reports are the Status of Coral Reefs of the World: 2020 (Souter et al. 2021), Status and Trends of East Asian Coral Reefs 1983 – 2019 (Kimura et al. 2022) and The Global Socioeconomic Monitoring Initiative for Coastal Management Report 2022 (Wongbusarakum et al. 2022).
Over the next decades, the GCRMN has the opportunity to serve as a key implementing tool for the Kunming-Montreal Global Biodiversity Framework (GBF), adopted in Montreal (December 2022) by Parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity. ICRI supported CBD parties to ensure the due representation of coral reefs within the Framework. ICRI developed Three asks #ForCoral, showcased the many mechanisms and tools available to CBD parties to implement the GBF, and encouraged the Framework to include broadly applicable ‘headline’ indicators on both ecosystem area and ecosystem integrity. The efforts of ICRI, partners and the coral reef community saw the retaining of a coral-specific indicator – coral reef extent. This provides an opportunity for the GCRMN to directly support CBD Parties in reporting against the GBF indicators. ICRI also contributed to the development of a monitoring framework specifically for GBF Target 2 (Ecosystem Restoration)1, proposing a composite of the coral cover and ‘Restored Reef Areal Dimension’ (see Goergen et al. 2020) indicators as a measure for the integrity of the area of coral reefs under restoration.
Managing coral reefs is about managing people. For this reason, the network also includes the Global Socioeconomic Monitoring Initiative for Coastal Management (SocMon), hosted by ICRI, to complement insights from ecological monitoring.
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