Why do we need to build capacity?
Coral reef conservation and marine resource management needs to be underpinned by sound scientific knowledge, including accurate information on the status of reefs. Assessment and monitoring programs require participants to identify a wide range of biota, including the animals that form the structural basis of the ecosystem, reef-building corals.
Corals are a particularly difficult group to identify accurately because:
- there are about 600 species of reef building corals, and over 80 coral genera, in the Indo Pacific, with numerous similar-looking species
- corals may display considerable morphological and geographic variation
- of the need to work underwater.
Such difficulties tend to de-motivate learners. As a consequence, there is a serious lack of people with the skill base for advanced assessment initiatives and training others in coral identification to genus level.
Extensive local and regional assessment and monitoring programs are underway by a wide range of organisations; from community based groups, to governmental and scientific organisations. However, technical expertise and resources may be limited within these groups, and they often rely on non-specialist personnel.
Therefore, there is a need for low cost but effective training in coral identification. The training needs to be underpinned by practical tools to provide people with the ability to produce information of sufficient quality to guide sound management decisions and empower communities.
The Coral Identification Capacity Building Program was set up to help address capacity issues around field activities involving coral identification.