An international team of environmental scientists have published a series of significant recommendations to protect, conserve and study the world’s coral reefs – the ‘canaries in the coal mine’ of climate change.

The Vibrant Oceans Initiative presented their white paper on the future of the delicate and crucial habitats at the Our Oceans Conference held in Palau on Thursday.

Drawing on expertise from universities and wildlife conservation groups from across the world, including the University of Leicester, the group provide six key recommendations intended to promote the ‘persistence and survival’ of coral reefs.

Forecasts show that coral reef ecosystems around the globe – key to huge numbers of marine species and a source of food, livelihoods, and cultural heritage for half a billion people – are likely to become functionally degraded by 2050, if the goals of the Paris Agreement are not met.

Even with drastic emission reductions to ensure global warming is kept within 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels, up to 90% of the world’s corals could still vanish in the next three decades, leaving behind a reef structure that will lose many of its functions.

Read the full article about coral reefs at Environmental News Network.