Coral reefs are one of the world’s most valuable ecosystems in terms of ecological, economic and cultural capital. However, recent reports indicate that 58 to 70 percent of coral reefs globally are directly threatened by human-associated activities. Overfishing, improper interaction with reefs, and land-based sources of pollution from agriculture, development and other activities threaten coral ecosystems.
Since 2000, NFWF has responded to the alarming decline in both the quantity and productivity of the world’s coral reef ecosystems through multiple coral conservation initiatives that aim to improve management, increase public awareness, and reduce threats to coral reefs both domestically and internationally. NFWF works with several different partners and a variety of targeted funding opportunities to achieve its goals in coral conservation. Some of the programs under the initiative include the Coral Reef Conservation Fund, the U.S. Coral Reef Task Force Watershed Partnership, and the Mesoamerican Reef Fund. These programs support reef resiliency by reducing negative impacts from unsustainable fishing and land-based pollution.
Key conservation strategies for coral reefs include:
- Reducing land-based sources of pollution from agricultural runoff, sewage outfall, erosion from bare soils, unsustainable harvest and other key threats
- Increasing the use of measurable goals, objectives and coral health thresholds in management planning
- Increasing the management effectiveness of Marine Protected Areas through management training and community engagement.
To date, NFWF has supported projects for coral reef conservation totaling over $34 million in 39 countries, giving the program a global reach. Funds have assisted broad-scale coral reef management by establishing new techniques for managing and monitoring reef health and new fishery management models. Site-specific initiatives have developed and implemented watershed management plans, reduced sediment erosion through stream bank stabilization, provided incentives or best management practices on agricultural lands, and supported capacity-building of management and conservation organizations to sustain conservation outcomes.
NFWF manages the Coral Reefs Program with NOAA's Coral Program and USDA-NRCS. Funding for the program is provided by NOAA, NRCS, Wells Fargo, Amgen and the Overbrook Foundation.