International Coral Reef Symposium 2012 – Cairns, Australia – Final Thoughts
On the final day of ICRS 2012 Dr. Jeremy Jackson was awarded the Darwin Medal for outstanding achievement in coral reef science. In his plenary speech following the award, Dr. Jackson asserted that despite the “doom and gloom” predictions there is indeed hope for the world’s coral reefs.
Hope in coral reef conservation is indeed an important message. Recent years have seen an overwhelming media focus on the many threats to coral reefs, the reports of significant decrease in reef health, and dire predictions of continued reef decline. Although important to understand and address, these discussions included little room for the optimistic side of coral reef science.
The message of hope has been a common theme at this year’s ICRS conference. Dr. Jackson presented evidence of hope for reef resilience, Dr. Ove Hoegh-Guldberg cited reasons for optimism in scientific achievements, Dr. Jane Lubchenco presented examples of successful conservation efforts, and International Coral Reef Society president Dr. Robert Richmond said “don’t worry… be happy”, stating that there is tremendous cause for optimism in the coral reef community. The overall message is that coral reef scientists and managers are making a difference in the fate of coral reefs.
This does not imply that coral reef experts can relax. Significant effort is still needed to continue improving our understanding of coral reefs, to get the message out and engage the greater community, and to take action with effective management plans. Success in these areas is dependent on developing new partnerships and collaborations and moving forward with a global voice for reef conservation.
These are fitting thoughts to conclude a week of success stories at ICRS 2012, with a message of optimism and a need for a more connected community.