New research underway to improve management of large-scale international marine reserves

In February, a global network of organisations launched a new research agenda to improve the effectiveness of large-scale marine protected areas (MPAs) around the world.

Led by Big Ocean, the initiative provides a new framework for joint research and learning. This will help increase understanding of how marine ecosystems work, and the role of large marine reserves like the Chagos in preserving them.

Professor Charles Sheppard, coral expert and Trustee of the Chagos Conservation Trust, is currently taking part in the first coordinated research project in the Chagos:
“This collaborative research will make a significant contribution to our understanding of climate change and its impacts to ocean ecosystems. One of the first collaborations to be carried out under the Big Ocean Research Agenda is a study of coral disease, bleaching and resilience on a broad geographic scale and across a large gradient of human use and impact.”

The Chagos acts as a control site. It has suffered very little from human impact ,so comparing reefs here with coral in the Indo-Pacific can reveal how the less isolated reefs have been impacted by human activities. Analysis of this baseline data from the Chagos could help managers of marine protected areas to improve the health of reef’s worldwide.