Dr Wilkinson, an internationally recognised coral reef scientist responsible for coordinating the Global Coral Reef Monitoring Network will discuss “Status of Coral Reefs in Asia and the World; the search for solutions to reef decline”.
Among his key points are that: Singapore is a bridge between the Indian and Pacific Oceans and can take a lead because of the particularly strong education, research and information technology capacity. But first people in Singapore must demonstrate that they are concerned about the environment, want to arrest climate change and sincerely protect their own coral reef resources.
Coral reefs continue to be threatened by direct human pressures of pollution and over-fishing, but now the threat of climate change has being recognized as the major future threat to reefs around the world.
The report released by the Global Coral Reef Monitoring Network and the International Coral Reef Initiative in late 2008, with more than 370 leading scientists and managers from 96 countries, reports that 19% of the world’s coral reefs have effectively been lost and another 35% are threatened with destruction in the next few decades; unless urgent action is taken to improve management and reduce threats.
The ‘Status of Coral Reefs of the World: 2008’ report contains both good and bad news: there has been major recovery of reefs in the Indian Ocean, parts of Southeast Asia and western Pacific after climate change induced bleaching in 1998, especially on those reefs that were in protected areas.
The bad news was the damage caused by the Indian Ocean tsunami in 2004 and massive coral bleaching combined with hurricane damage that devastated large areas of Caribbean coral reefs in 2005 and 2006. There are also increasing human pressures including pollution, development, deforestation and overfishing in East Africa, South Asia, Southeast Asia, populated areas of the Pacific and Caribbean, and there has been a ‘outbreak’ of bomb and cyanide fishing in Asia and in Tanzania.
The saddest story is in Southeast Asia which has the richest coral reefs in the world as well as the greatest human threats to reefs. But also Asia has rapid growing economies that will demand greater environmental protection. Singapore is a bridge between the Indian and Pacific Oceans and can take a lead because of the particularly strong education, research and information technology capacity. But first people in Singapore must demonstrate that they are concerned about the environment, want to arrest climate change and sincerely protect their own coral reef resources.
About the Speaker:
Dr Wilkinson an internationally recognised coral reef scientist responsible for coordinating the Global Coral Reef Monitoring Network (GCRMN), which is active in more than 80 countries. Funding from the Governments of the USA and Australia, as well as Japan, France and international NGOs supports the GCRMN, which publishes the "Status of Coral Reefs of the World" reports in 1998, 2000, 2002, 2004 and 2008 with special reports on the tsunami and coral bleaching damage to coral reefs. Among his diverse roles, Dr Wilkinson's research interests cover a wide range of topics, including microbiology, ecology of sponges and the implications of climate change to coral reefs.
Date: 27 Apr (Mon)
Time: 11am - 12pm
Venue: Function Hall, Botany Centre, Singapore Botanic Gardens
Contact: Lim Wei Ling LIM_Wei_Ling@nparks.gov.sg