Mitigation of Land Based Threats

What is one of the biggest threats to coral reefs? Land-based development. WFCRC aims to educate and inform communities – both coastal and inland – of the dangers and effects of development, erosion, on-land oil spills and other hazards on coral reefs and work closely with stakeholders to help them make data-driven decisions.

Alteration of the natural landscape for development and agriculture can have adverse impacts on coral reefs. These cause sediment, nutrients and other pollutants to drain through rivers and streams and enter coastal waters. Once introduced into the marine environment, toxins can accumulate in sediments and remain there for long periods of time. Many metals, like mercury and copper, are extremely toxic and can concentrate in the tissues of organisms. In some cases, toxins can move through food chains and potentially be consumed by humans.

Oil and other petroleum products are also very harmful to coral reef ecosystems. Heavier oils can remain in the marine environment for long periods. If spills occur during low tides or sink to the seafloor, oil can cover and kill corals and other organisms.

This project aims to:

  • Link patterns of land use within watersheds to the impacts at coral reefs, and identify reefs at greatest risk of degradation
  • Identify watersheds most vulnerable to erosion and those which contribute the most sediment and pollution to coastal waters
  • Share information to facilitate improved land management within the region
  • Use the results of the models and diagnostic tools to educate and encourage key stakeholders to adopt better management practices to reduce impacts on the coastal and marine resources