On 26 October 2022, Her Excellency Aminath Shauna, Minister of Environment Climate Change and Technology launched the completed assessments of 39 coral species at the closing ceremony of a four-day IUCN Red List of Threatened Species Assessor training. During the ceremony, 13 participants representing government partner agencies, NGOs and local experts who took part in the ‘Red List’ training programme to undertake future Red List assessments in the Maldives were awarded certificates.
Through the USAID-funded Project REGENERATE, IUCN has been providing technical assistance to Ministry of Environment, Climate Change and Technology in the formulation of the first ever Maldives Red List of Threatened Species. Through this collaboration, a roadmap was developed in 2021 and a technical committee comprising of government agencies and IUCN was established. Three priority taxa were identified for initial assessments which include marine reptiles, corals and mangroves. Maldives Red list of Threatened Species initiative was officially launched on 15 February 2022 and species assessments for 5 marine reptiles were published as well.
The assessment conducted on 39 species of corals shows that 23 are critically endangered, six are endangered, seven are vulnerable and three are near threatened – meaning 36 species are included among the threatened with extinction categories.
Her Excellency Aminath Shauna stressed the importance to conserve Maldivian coral reefs by taking swifter actions than at present. H.E. Aminath Shauna also said “Corals are a vital resource for our economy, especially for the tourism and fisheries sectors. At the same time, the coral reef ecosystem is fundamental to the well-being of Maldivians because it plays a key role in enabling human settlements in the Maldives through climate regulation, storm buffering, and coastal protection, among many other ecosystem services”.
Dr. Dindo Campilan, Regional Director for IUCN Asia in his video message said “the IUCN Red List helps catalyse action for biodiversity conservation and more importantly helps inform policies that can lead to better conservation strategies for species management”.
Coral reefs of the Maldives represent 3.14 percent of the world’s reef areas – making it the seventh largest reef system in the world. The Maldives has 2,031 distinct coral reefs, having at least 258 stony coral species belonging to 57 genera. The reefs formed by these corals are an important part of the environment that provides shelter to more than 700 marine life. However, the Maldivian coral reefs are severely threatened by the effects of climate change. The 2016 global bleaching event affected approximately 70% of Maldivian coral reefs. Conservation efforts are underway on a national-scale to combat the issue of coral bleaching.
Source: IUCN News Article – November 6, 2022