News Post2020
Jayne Jenkins

Five A’s of the Coral Reef Indicators

Jayne Jenkins

In 2020, the International Coral Reef Initiative (ICRI) adopted a Recommendation to prioritize coral reefs within the CBD Post-2020 Global Biodiversity Framework (GBF). The Recommendation comes from the very real need to safeguard coral reef ecosystems and their significant value from the current trajectory of collapse due to climate change, overfishing, pollution and other local pressures. Each of the recommended indicators covers a facet of coral reef health and integrity:

  • Live Coral Cover — provides a snapshot of overall coral reef health
  • Coral Reef Extent — determines whether the area of coral reef systems is increasing or decreasing
  • Fleshy Algae Cover and cover of key benthic groups — indicates coral reef health, increases in algal cover can show declining health
  • Fish Abundance and Biomass — marks the function and productivity of coral reefs
  • Percent Coral Reefs Effectively Protected — measures commitment to protecting coral reefs
  • Index of Coastal Eutrophication — signals water quality impacts in coastal areas

Each coral reef indicator has been thoughtfully considered for its scientific validity, usefulness at national, regional and global scales, and widespread availability to reporting parties as noted below. Why are these indicators vitally important? How can they make a significant difference?

The Coral Reef Indicators…

ARE ACCESSIBLE — These are not lofty, esoteric indicators that no one can measure. They are already being used.

CREATE ACCOUNTABILITY — Together, these indicators will ensure our global commitment can be tracked and our progress measured

HOLISTICALLY ASSESS PROGRESS — The coral reef indicators provide a holistic snapshot of coral reef health status. They measure the most important elements of the vitality and integrity of coral reef systems.

GUIDE ADAPTIVE ACTION — If conservation and management plans are not on track, the indicators will help guide alternate routes to improve coral health.

GENERATE ALIGNMENT — These indicators will provide global alignment and consistency, including measurement standards, which are critical as we seek to understand the status and changing dynamics of our coral reefs.

ICRI is working through many channels in support of the Post-2020 Global Biodiversity Framework to safeguard our coral reef ecosystems and those who depend on it. For more information visit our website,, and follow #ForCoral on Twitter.

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