Reef Resilience Toolkit: New Tools Build Resilience into Coral Reef Management

Photo:  © Kemit Amon- Lewis/TNC

Photo: © Kemit Amon- Lewis/TNC

By Petra MacGowan, Reef Resilience Program Manager, The Nature Conservancy’s Global Marine Team

Large amounts of data are available for coral reef conservationists. The problem is that many reef managers don’t have the time to access said data.

Enter the Reef Resilience Toolkit.

Some days it seems to me that people are getting the message on coral reefs: they understand that coral reefs are in serious decline.

Yet there is little public pressure to address the main causes of reef decline (climate change, overfishing, and land-based sources of pollution). Projections for the future of coral reefs are grim, as coral reef managers well know.  .

Resource management agencies responsible for reefs often operate with very little staff and/or financing. Local managers continue to express the need for additional capacity to do their work effectively.  Many high-level, well-intentioned projects to research reefs or service managers on the ground have very little application on a local level.

It is clear that coral reef regions need support to increase support and funding for local resource management.

What can be done to help those on the ground better manage reefs in a changing climate?

The concept of  “coral reef resilience”– that a healthy “immune system” helps coral communities to better cope with and recover from major stress events such as storm impacts or coral bleaching events — has proven a useful concept in engaging policy makers and community members.

The idea that we can help to strengthen the “immune system” of coral reef ecosystems to increase the likelihood that they will continue to thrive is empowering ; it encourages action instead of paralysis.

The Reef Resilience Toolkit provides what reef managers need to accomplish just that.

The Toolkit addresses the needs of local coral reef managers and practitioners and equips them with the tools and information they need for the challenging tasks they face.

Immense amounts of information and data are available and will continue to be produced on coral reefs and management strategies for reefs.  The problem for managers is a lack of time to sort through the huge amounts of information being produced, and then to identify and–most importantly–implement winning strategies to pursue for their site.

The Reef Resilience Toolkit aims to be the online hub for coral reef science and management strategies addressing changing climate.

The new redesigned Toolkit was developed with feedback from managers and partners in the field.  The idea behind the Toolkit is to aggregate and translate the information being produced and put relevant resources at the fingertips of managers in an easy-to-navigate format.

These resources include case studies of successful management strategies, summaries of recent publications, and comprehensive training modules on how to incorporate resilience-based principles into action.  The site also offers information about the program webinar series, bi-monthly newsletters and information on the Reef Resilience Network, a platform to connect managers globally.

Working to conserve reefs and support the cultures and livelihoods of the people that reefs sustain can be a wonderful job.   However, at times the enormity of the challenge can seem quite overwhelming.

Exchanging ideas with other managers is inspiring and provides the needed motivation and energy to keep moving forward.

The Reef Resilience Toolkit is one piece in a very big puzzle of how to stop declining reefs and preserve the livelihoods and cultures of the millions of people that depend on coral reef ecosystems.

We believe that supporting managers and practitioners to help them do their jobs better, and leveraging successful strategies through facilitating sharing ideas between managers is a critical strategy to stop the decline of coral reefs.

You can also read some of the stories from managers  and check out the refreshed and redesigned Toolkit. 

Opinions expressed on Cool Green Science and in any corresponding comments are the personal opinions of the original authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of The Nature Conservancy.

Posted In: Coral Reefs

Petra MacGowan is the Reef Resilience Program Manager for the Global Marine Team of The Nature Conservancy. She is responsible for leading the global capacity building efforts of the Reef Resilience Program and managing the implementation of the NOAA-Coral Reef Conservation Program/TNC partnership to support the efforts of coral reef managers and conservation partners in Florida, the U.S. Virgin Islands, Puerto Rico, Hawaii, American Samoa, the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands, and Guam to protect and sustainably manage their coral reefs. Previously, Petra worked for the State of Hawaii Division of Aquatic Resources (DAR) where she managed the State’s coral reef conservation strategies including the planning and implementation of marine managed areas in the Main Hawaiian Islands and the development of community-based management initiatives to enhance enforcement efforts statewide. She received her degree in Environmental Studies at St. Lawrence University, with a concentration in Economics in 1998. She went on to earn a Master’s of Marine Affairs from the University of Washington in 2006 where she conducted her thesis work in Guinea-Bissau, West Africa. She joined the Nature Conservancy in 2011.

Comments: Reef Resilience Toolkit: New Tools Build Resilience into Coral Reef Management

  •  Comment from Beth Pike

    Risilience is increased when natural processes are allowed to continue without undue human impact. Marine reserves help provide a place for this to occur in the ocean, yet less than 3% of our oceans are set aside for conservation. This toolkit is a huge help to scientists working to help protect coral reefs.

  •  Comment from Murray Perrett

    I have been in the Puerti Aventuras area since late October 2013, the first time I heard abiut thus was today via The PlayaTimes, in a small notice for volunteers for various agencies. I would have volunteered when I first arrived.
    You should have posters located in each of the local dive shops, to inform divers of the project and the need for volunteers. Hooefully you can use me now over the next three weeks befire I return nirth for the summer.


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