Research Press Release

Ecology: Save the trees to save the reefs

Nature Communications

June 5, 2013

Conservation projects to reverse current deforestation could also benefit coastal coral reef ecosystems reports a paper published in Nature Communications this week. The work suggests that regional land-use management is more important than mediating climate change for reducing coral reef sedimentation on Madagascar.

Forest cover up-river is known to affects the sediments that are washed down to the coast. Near-shore coral reef systems, such as those on Madagascar, are experiencing increased sediment supply due to the conversion of forests to other land uses. Joseph Maina and colleagues simulated river flow and sediment supply in four watersheds that are linked to Madagascar’s major coral reef ecosystems for a range of future climate change projections and land-use change scenarios. They find that the adverse effects of climate-change, such as increased temperatures, are outweighed by the impact of deforestation up river. They suggest that resources spent tackling the environmental issue of deforestation may therefore also aid in preserving the coral reef ecosystems at the coast.


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