To save corals, save the forests

2013-06-05 08:02
Coral.

Coral. (Romeo Gacad, AFP)

Multimedia   ·   User Galleries   ·   News in Pictures Send us your pictures  ·  Send us your stories

Paris - Conservationists fighting to save coastal coral reefs should think first about combating local deforestation rather than attacking the wider peril of global warming, suggests an unusual study published on Tuesday.

Sediment washed downriver by tree-depleted land can cripple near-shore corals, as it clouds the water and diminishes the light on which coral communities depend.

When the sediment sinks to the seabed, it smothers the corals, forcing them to increase energy expenditure to survive, boosting the risk of "bleaching" and die-out.

A team led by Joseph Maina of Macquarie University in Sydney, Australia, carried out a computer simulation of four river systems in Madagascar whose outflows have an impact on local coral ecosystems.

By 2090, global warming will have a big effect on these watersheds, reducing rainfall and as a result diminishing the deposit of sediment into the sea, they found.

"However, these climate change-driven declines are outweighed by the impact of deforestation," says their paper.

Deforestation in Madagascar has boosted river sediment fivefold since human settlement expanded there, it calculates.

Sediment volumes could be reduced by between 19 and 68% if between 10 and 50% of natural forest is restored, it says.

Planting new forests "offers promise for sustainable environmental outcomes in the face of climate change in one of the world's most important biodiversity hotspots," it says.

Scientists say warmer seas, along with overfishing and habitat loss, are major perils for corals, on which hundreds of millions of people depend for their livelihoods.

A quarter of reef-building corals face extinction, according to the "Red List" of threatened species compiled by International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN).

Read more on:    iucn  |  france  |  australia  |  marine life  |  conservation

Join the conversation!

24.com encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions.

24.com publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
0 comments
Comments have been closed for this article.

Inside News24

 
/News

Book flights

Compare, Book, Fly

Traffic Alerts
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.
 
English
Afrikaans
isiZulu

Hello 

Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.


Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.

Settings

Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.




Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.