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 local, state, federal and regional partners to achieve its goals in coral conservation and bolsters multi-agency initiatives like the U.S. Coral Reef Task Force Watershed Partnership Initiative. The program works to support reef resiliency by reducing negative impacts from unsustainable fishing and land-based pollution.
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, intensive boating and recreational impacts, and land-based sources of pollution in the form of sediments and excess nutrients threaten coral ecosystems.
Key conservation strategies for coral reefs include:
- Reducing primary threats such as land-based sources of pollution from agricultural runoff, sewage outfall, and erosion from bare soils, and reducing functional reef species through unsustainable harvest
- Increasing the use of measurable goals, objectives and coral health thresholds in management planning
- Increasing the management effectiveness of Marine Protected Area networks through management training and community engagement
To date, NFWF has supported projects for coral reef conservation totaling over $43 million in 39 countries, giving the program a global reach. Funds have assisted broad-scale coral reef management by establishing new techniques for assessing 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 Reef Conservation Program. Funding for the program is provided by NOAA and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.