Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Human deforestation outweighs climate change for coral reefs

University of Western Australia: Better land use is the key to preventing further damage to the world's coral reefs, according to a study published this week in the online science journal Nature Communications. The study, by an international team including a researcher from The University of Western Australia's Oceans Institute, has important implications for Australia's Great Barrier Reef.

The study authors write that preventing soil erosion and sediment pollution arising from human activities such as deforestation are crucial to reef survival.

The study - ‘Human deforestation outweighs future climate change impacts of sedimentation on coral reefs' - looked at the effects of future climate change on the hydroclimate of Madagascar's reefs and different deforestation scenarios.

"The findings are very relevant for Australia since intense land use and past deforestation have transformed the river catchments tremendously and are seen as a major threat to coral reefs in the Great Barrier Reef and elsewhere," said Dr Jens Zinke, of UWA's Oceans Institute.

"Managing hinterland land use is the major action needed to buy time for corals growing near rivers." Dr Zinke said the study looked at four watersheds near coral reef ecosystems in Madagascar, which has different climate zones that mimic most of the world's coral reef climate and a range of different land uses...

In the Great Barrier Reef, shot by Steve Evans, Wikimedia Commons via Flickr,  under the Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic license

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