To save corals, save the forests, study says

June 4, 2013
A coral reef near the 82nd Meridian is seen on November 30, 2012. Conservationists fighting to save coastal coral reefs should think first about combatting local deforestation rather than attacking the wider peril of global warming, suggests an unusual study published on Tuesday.

Conservationists fighting to save coastal coral reefs should think first about combatting 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 .

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 fivefold since human settlement expanded there, it calculates.

Sediment volumes could be reduced by between 19 and 68 percent if between 10 and 50 percent 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 ," 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).

Explore further: Ancient coral reefs at risk from deforestation and land use practices

Related Stories

Coral reefs 'ruled by earthquakes and volcanoes'

May 22, 2013

(Phys.org) —Titanic forces in the Earth's crust explain why the abundance and richness of corals varies dramatically across the vast expanse of the Indian and Pacific Oceans, a world-first study from the ARC Centre of Excellence ...

Recommended for you

Playing 'tag' with pollution lets scientists see who's 'it'

July 29, 2015

Using a climate model that can tag sources of soot from different global regions and can track where it lands on the Tibetan Plateau, researchers have determined which areas around the plateau contribute the most soot—and ...

A cataclysmic event of a certain age

July 27, 2015

At the end of the Pleistocene period, approximately 12,800 years ago—give or take a few centuries—a cosmic impact triggered an abrupt cooling episode that earth scientists refer to as the Younger Dryas.

3 comments

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

Jonseer
1 / 5 (7) Jun 05, 2013
Ha don't hold your breath.

Extended study trips to coral reefs worldwide are what climatologists live and breath for.

That they can gather more evidence to prove a theory that science in general accepts as true is just their excuse.

Sinister1811
2.4 / 5 (8) Jun 05, 2013
Forests absorb the CO2 that the ocean would otherwise absorb. And the absorption of CO2 in the ocean, increases the acidity which leads to stress on coral, in general. The coral "bleaches" itself in response to stress.
http://en.wikiped...leaching
Howhot
3.7 / 5 (6) Jun 06, 2013
Extended study trips to coral reefs worldwide are what climatologists live and breath for.
You are so full of BS. You don't even know what a climatologist does or how he/she performs their work. Field work is where the scientific process leads them, it could be coral reefs, or it could be trees in Colorado.

I think I would back-off that grandiose bull spit until you get what global warming is.

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.