Background

Photo credit: Yen-Yi Lee

The Global Coral Reef Monitoring Network (GCRMN) was established by the International Coral Reef Initiative (ICRI) in 1995, initially with the primary task of reporting on the condition of the world’s coral reefs in the context of the development of the ICRI ‘Call to Action’. Since then GCRMN has produced a range of global, regional and thematic reports on coral reef status and trends.

Why are coral reefs important?

Coral reefs are exceptionally biodiverse. Occurring in more than 100 countries, human dependence on their ecosystem services is high. They are under significant direct pressure from human activities, and are uniquely vulnerable to climate change as well as ocean acidification. This makes coral reefs a sensitive indicator system for coastal ocean health, climate change and ocean acidification impacts, and their implications for society.

The role of the GCRMN

Tracking and reporting on coral reef status and trends is needed to understand the extent and rate of change, and to inform appropriate responses. As coral degradation is taking place at global level driven by global, as well as local processes, coherent coral reef observation is required. This directly supports planning and tracking of its implementation in relation to sustainable development, climate change and biodiversity conservation, and has broad application in awareness raising and outreach. High quality coral reef data will also support research, including in relation to ecology and ecosystem service provision, and observational data is needed for modelling to better predict future reef responses to climate stress.

The role of the GCRMN is to provide this coral reef data, aggregating from national to regional levels, and then to a global level.