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People and ecosystems

Understanding of the links between coral reef ecosystems, the goods and services they provide to people, and the wellbeing of human societies.

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Ecosystem dynamics: past, present and future

Examining the multi-scale dynamics of reefs, from population dynamics to macroevolution

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Responding to a changing world

Advancing the fundamental understanding of the key processes underpinning reef resilience.

Coral Bleaching

Coral Bleaching

Coral Reef Studies

ARC Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies
James Cook University Townsville
Queensland 4811 Australia

Phone: 61 7 4781 4000
Email: info@coralcoe.org.au

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Coral reefs are in trouble – how can people adapt?

29
Jan 2018

An international team of scientists has developed a strategy to boost people’s ability to adapt to climate change, revealed in a new study published today in the prestigious journal, Nature Climate Change.

“Millions of coastal people in the tropics have been affected by the global coral bleaching event that unfolded over the previous two years. We need to find ways to help these people adapt to change,” said Professor Joshua Cinner from the ARC Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies at James Cook University.

A group of social scientists from the USA, Australia, UK, and Chile, led by Prof. Cinner, have pooled their experience, and lessons from hundreds of research and development projects, to highlight five keys ways to build up the adaptive capacity of people living in the coastal tropics. These include:

1. Ensuring that people have the assets to draw upon in times of need. These assets can include household wealth or public goods such as health services, but they need to be developed in ways that don’t exacerbate existing inequalities;
2. Providing the flexibility to change. “Having some flexibility can enable people to minimise losses or even take advantage of climate-related change,” said Prof. Eddie Allison from the University of Washington, USA. “For example, fishers might need to change fishing grounds or target new species.”
3. Learning about climate change and adaptation options. “People need to learn about new techniques and strategies that can help them cope with changing circumstances,” said Prof. Katrina Brown at the University of Exeter, UK.
4. Investing in social relationships. “The formal and informal relationships that people have with each other and their communities can help them deal with change by providing social support and access to both knowledge and resources,” said Prof. Cinner.
5. Empowering people to have a say in what happens to them. “We also need to ensure that people have the ability to determine what is right for them,” said Prof. Brown.

The paper “Building adaptive capacity to climate change in tropical coastal communities,” will be published in the February 1 issue of Nature Climate Change, and is available online today.

Link to video and images here. Please credit as marked.

Contacts:

Australia: Prof. Josh Cinner.
E: Joshua.cinner@jcu.edu.au
M: +61(0)417714138

UK: Prof. Katrina Brown.
E: Katrina.Brown@exeter.ac.uk

North America (USA): Prof. Eddie Allison.
E: eha1@uw.edu
M: +1 206 859 3438 (mobile)

Latin America (Chile): Dr. Stefan Gelcich
E: sgelcich@bio.puc.cl
P: +569 9577 8574

For more information:

Catherine Naum
Communications Manager
ARC Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies at James Cook University
Townsville, QLD AUSTRALIA
P: +61 (0)7 4781 6067
M: +61 (0) 428 785 895 (AEST/UTC +10)
E: Catherine.Naum1@jcu.edu.au

A Papua New Guinean fisherman returning from the sea being greeted by children. Credit: ARC CoE for Coral Reef Studies/ Michele Barnes
A Papua New Guinean fisherman returning from the sea being greeted by children. Credit: ARC CoE for Coral Reef Studies/ Michele Barnes

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Coral Reef Studies

ARC Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies
James Cook University Townsville
Queensland 4811 Australia

Phone: 61 7 4781 4000
Email: info@coralcoe.org.au