The study assessed coral reefs in ten countries in the WIO using the IUCN Red List of Ecosystems criteria. Their assessment covered 5% of the world’s coral reefs, and combined data from the past 35 years, with sea surface temperature projections 50 years into the future. Results suggest that all reefs in the WIO are at high risk of complete ecosystem collapse and irreversible damage. Ocean warming and overfishing were identified as the main threats.
Much like the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species, which assesses the extinction risk of species, the IUCN Red List of Ecosystems objectively assesses the dangers to our natural world in a standardised way that can be applied to all ecosystems globally.
This study is highly significant as it gives an updated assessment of coral reefs in the region and its methods can be applied to coral reefs elsewhere. It also emphasizes the need for urgent action to be taken for coral reefs.
The work was led by researchers from CORDIO East Africa and involved contributions from researchers across nine Western Indian Ocean countries and from more than 35 institutions.