SEP 28, 2021 4:00 PM PDT

How to Save the World's Coral Reefs? Global Reforestation

WRITTEN BY: Matthew Lundy

With recent news of the world’s coral supply standing at just 50% of what it was in the 1950s, any strategies for protecting and safeguarding coral should be welcomed with wide-stretched arms. A study published in Global Change Biology last month provides just such an approach. Anyone familiar with climate change solutions might be surprised to find a familiar face in this study’s suggested method of coral defense: reforestation. The study found that targeted reforestation in coastal areas could “help to reduce sediment export to 63,000 km2 [~24,000 mi2] of coral reefs.” The reduction of such sediment would help “foster coral reef conservation.”

Coastal forests help prevent sediment from reaching coral reefs.

Reforestation is, as the name implies, restoring trees and forests to areas that once had them but have since experienced degradation. This degradation can be from wood harvesting, clearing to make room for livestock grazing, or a variety of other factors. The study, led by researchers from the University of Queensland, found that reforestation of degraded watershed and coastal areas would help avoid harm from sediment originating in these regions. This sediment can “cause aquatic ecosystems to be more sensitive to heat stress, which decreases the resilience of corals to pressures caused by climate change,” according to lead author Dr. Suárez-Castro, speaking in a university press release. The potential for sediment damage is so huge not just because it exacerbates climate change impacts, but also because it is so widespread. Of the 5,500 regions the study reviewed, 85% of them leach such sediment to coral reefs.

While limiting emissions will lower the harm brought to coral by increased temperatures and ocean acidity, reforestation will help prevent damaging sediment from reaching corals (in addition to helping lower emissions, too). Dr. Suárez-Castro explains, “reforestation is hugely important as it maintains the stability of soils that are vital in limiting erosion risk – it also helps to trap more sediments and prevent them from reaching aquatic systems.” Safeguarding the natural world is an inherently multi-faceted endeavor. As climate change threatens every corner of the globe, proactive steps must be taken to fight both it and any bane which facilitates its destruction. Fortunately, research, like this study, is helping shine light on how to proceed with such proactivity.

 

Sources: Global Change Biology; UQ News

About the Author
  • Science communicator passionate about physics, space, and our, unfortunately, changing climate; exploring the universe through written word and the occasional video.
You May Also Like
AUG 06, 2021
Earth & The Environment
Your Coffee Could be Harming the Oceans
AUG 06, 2021
Your Coffee Could be Harming the Oceans
Caffeine is one of the most widely consumed psychoactive drugs in the world. Approximately sixty plant species produce c ...
AUG 26, 2021
Health & Medicine
Hoover Dam is going dry: Water shortage declared for the first time ever in the USA
AUG 26, 2021
Hoover Dam is going dry: Water shortage declared for the first time ever in the USA
We have all heard of the famous “bathtub ring” around Lake Mead (AZ, MN) and many have seen photos and video ...
SEP 02, 2021
Microbiology
Microbes Create an Electrical Grid in Nature
SEP 02, 2021
Microbes Create an Electrical Grid in Nature
The world is full of single-celled organisms, which can be found virtually everywhere from hydrothermal vents in the dee ...
SEP 16, 2021
Plants & Animals
Climate Change Is Already Bad for Corn Production. Weeds Make It Worse.
SEP 16, 2021
Climate Change Is Already Bad for Corn Production. Weeds Make It Worse.
Climate change is accelerating, causing more severe droughts, heat, and flooding. The United Nations Intergovernmental P ...
OCT 06, 2021
Earth & The Environment
The Future is Fungi!
OCT 06, 2021
The Future is Fungi!
With more people looking to reduce the amount of meat they consume, vegetable substitutes for meat are on the rise. Thou ...
OCT 21, 2021
Earth & The Environment
Cosmic Radiation Events shed light on Norse Settlement in the Americas
OCT 21, 2021
Cosmic Radiation Events shed light on Norse Settlement in the Americas
A new open access study published in Nature yesterday showcases a relatively new method in archaeology. In an attempt to ...
Loading Comments...