Coral reefs provide ecosystem services, such as coastal protection, fisheries and tourism that are vital to the livelihoods of millions of people. These services are dependent upon healthy living corals and the structure they create. Corals generate skeletons of calcium carbonate (limestone) as they grow which provide a natural breakwater and the complex three dimensional habitat that is essential to
support the high biodiversity of coral reefs. Other processes (e.g., cementation by coralline algae) also add to the growth of reef structure, while bioerosion helps further create complexity and is essential in determining the balance between reef growth and disintegration.
Climate change is expected to reduce the ability of corals to form reef structure. Rising ocean temperatures are projected to disrupt growth rates for many corals and increase the frequency of coral bleaching. Ocean acidification will also slow coral growth and weaken reefs, at the same time as increasing the rate of bioerosion. In the face of such impacts, local efforts to improve reef health
might seem hopeless. However, recent research has shown that local management of reefs is vital to maintain the continued net production of reef structure, and therefore the provision of the important ecosystem services that reefs provide.
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