The Coral Reef Alliance (CORAL) was honored to be recognized by the Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies Annual Meeting as one of six organizations and individuals to receive The Climate Adaptation Leadership Award for Natural Resources (CALA) on September 9, 2020. The CALA was established in 2016 to recognize exemplary leadership in the field of climate adaptation and the protection of the nation’s vital natural resources and the people who depend on them in a changing world.
“Climate change poses growing risks to our nation’s valuable fish and wildlife resources and the many people, businesses and communities that depend upon them,” stated Kelly Hepler, President of the Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies and Secretary of the South Dakota Department of Game, Fish, and Parks. “This year’s awardees have done outstanding work to help safeguard species, habitats, and communities in a changing world, and we are thrilled to recognize their efforts.”
In 2015, CORAL launched a pioneering research project to understand what actions we can take today to help corals adapt to climate change. The results, published in Nature Climate Change, show that evolution can help rescue reefs from the effects of climate change. The research shows that when we conserve a diverse portfolio of coral reefs species, variable environmental conditions and significant connectivity, we enable the necessary conditions for nature’s survivors to spread their genes to future generations. The research also shows that adaptation is possible when local stressors are reduced across a network of sites. The result is an Adaptive Reefscape: a network of healthy reefs in which corals can adapt to climate change.
A vitally important component of CORAL’s Adaptive Reefscape approach is that the reefs within the network are healthy. This means that reducing direct threats to reefs, particularly unsustainable fishing and land-based pollution, is essential. Well-managed reefs serve as sources of repopulation over the long-term, enabling coral survivors to rescue other reefs across a region. As a leader in coral conservation, CORAL works with communities and conservation professionals around the world to turn the peer-reviewed scientific results into action to give reefs the best chance to survive the coming decades.
“We are beyond thrilled to have been selected as one of this year’s CALA Award winners for our work on Adaptive Reefscapes,” says Dr. Madhavi Colton, Executive Director of the Coral Reef Alliance. “Our research shows that coral reefs can adapt to climate change if they are kept healthy. It is an honor to have the backing of fish and wildlife agencies as we work with local communities and conservation professionals around the world to create the conditions in which corals can adapt.”
This award is sponsored and guided by the Climate Adaptation Leadership Awards Steering Committee which is made up of representatives from the Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies and various Federal agencies including the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Bureau of Indian Affairs, U.S. Forest Service, Natural Resources Conservation Service, and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.