In 2008, the Convention on Biological Diversity adopted scientific criteria for identifying ecologically or biologically significant marine areas in need of protection on the open oceans and deep seas.
While much scientific discovery lies ahead, available information and current and emerging methodologies already allow us to begin identifying oceanic features that are likely of particular ecological or biological importance.
The countries affected by the 2004 Asian tsunami contain the most diverse and extensive coral reefs and mangroves of the Indian Ocean, and some of the richest in the world. Not only are these ecosystems among the most threatened in the world, they also provide numerous essential ecosystem services.
It is thus not surprising that reefs and mangroves received widespread attention after the tsunami, with three principal questions posed: Are the tsunami's impacts on reefs and mangroves a further threat to their future survival? Did reefs and mangroves play a role in shoreline protection and reduce structural damage and human mortality? How could reconstruction efforts include actions to maintain these ecosystems and reduce further threats to them?Resource Type: Journal Papers
This report presents comprehensive and up-to-date information and data on marine cold-water coral reefs from around the world. Cold Water Coral Reefs: Out of Sight - No Longer Out of Mind aims to provide policy makers with the information required to take concerted action in the conservation, protection and sustainable management of these beautiful, largely unexplored and fragile coral reefs.
The areas of the ocean that lie beyond national jurisdiction limits, also called the high seas, are vulnerable to human activities and currently underrepresented when compared to terrestrial and nearshore1 marine environments under protection. Thus, there is a growing movement among the conservation community to increase measures, such as marine protected areas, that can ensure protection of the largely undiscovered but important biodiversity of the high seas.Resource Type: Reports
The World's oceans play a crucial role for life on the planet. Healthy seas and the services they provide are key to the future development of mankind. Our seas are highly dynamic, structured and complex systems. The seafloor consists of vast shelves and plains with huge mountains, canyons and trenches which dwarf similar structures on land. Ocean currents transport water masses many times larger than all rivers on Earth combined.
In this report, the locations of the most productive fishing grounds in the World - from shallow, coastal waters to the deep and high seas - are compared to projected scenarios of climate change, ocean acidification, coral bleaching, intensity of fisheries, land-based pollution, increase of invasive species infestations and growth in coastal development.Resource Type: Reports
Since the late 1970s the UNEP World Conservation Monitoring Centre (UNEP-WCMC) has delivered services that support implementation of international biodiversity-related agreements at global, regional and national levels. These services not only support the work of the agreement secretariats, but also of the advisory and governance bodies, and of governments party to the various agreements. The aim of this paper is to illustrate this work through examples of work we have undertaken.
The support that UNEP-WCMC provides is based on expert understanding of the agreements and how they work, resulting from many years of experience and close relationships with secretariats.Resource Type: Reports
Hotspot Ecosystem Research on the Margins of European Seas (HERMES) was one of the 40 most successful projects under the EU's 6th Framework Programme for Research and Technological Development. Following completion of the project in March 2009, The HERMES Story is published jointly by HERMES and UNEP to inform policy and decision makers from around the world about the lessons learned and the amazing new insights into deep-sea biodiversity, structure, function and dynamics discovered under HERMES. The HERMES Story highlights the need for concerted action to protect the deep sea against the increasing pressures, threats and impacts from human activities and climate change, and provides inspiration for the development of similar deep-sea research projects in other regions.Resource Type: Reports
The ability of coral reefs to survive in a globally-warming world may crucially depend on the levels of pollution to which they are exposed, new findings indicate.
Scientists studying reefs that were bleached in the late 1990s by high surface sea temperatures have found a link between recovery rates and the levels of contamination entering coastal waters from developments on the land.Resource Type: Reports
"UNEP has been able to respond quickly and authoritatively to many global biodiversity challenges by tapping into WCMC's expert capabilities.”
UNEP Executive Director and UN Under-Secretary-General
Coral reefs are the most biologically diverse of shallow water marine ecosystems but are being degraded worldwide by human activities and climate warming. Analyses of the geographic ranges of 3235 species of reef fish, corals, snails, and lobsters revealed that between 7.2 and 53.6 of each taxon have highly restricted ranges, rendering them vulnerable to extinction. Restricted-range species are clustered into centers of endemism, like those described for terrestrial taxa. The 10 richest centers of endemism cover 15.8 of the world's coral reefs (0.012 of the oceans) but include between 44.8 and 54.2 of the restricted-range species. Many occur in regions where reefs are being severely affected by people, potentially leading to numerous extinctions. Threatened centers of endemism are major biodiversity hotspots, and conservation efforts targeted toward them could help avert the loss of tropical reef biodiversity.Resource Type: Journal Papers
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