In 1995, the International Coral Reef Initiative (ICRI) called on many nations to commit to increasing research and monitoring of coral reefs in order to provide the data needed to inform policies of nations to sustain coral reefs and to strengthen management.
Global reef monitoring was a major theme when ICRI was launched during the United Nations Global Conference on Sustainable Development of Small Islands Developing States in Barbados in 1994. It was during this time that the Global Coral Reef Monitoring Network (GCRMN) was established to support ICRI’s Call to Action and Framework for Action.
- Strengthen the scientific understanding of the status and trends of coral reef ecosystems at different places around the world. This scientific endeavor is to establish quantitatively rigorous baselines for earlier reef conditions and to document the extent to which different reefs have varyingly declined from a relatively more pristine to degraded state. This variability is important because some reefs are much healthier than others, and we need to understand why if we are to have any hope of preserving and restoring coral reefs and their ecosystem services in the foreseeable future.
- Strengthen communication among GCRMN members and provide information on network activities, identify opportunities to participate in regional and global reporting, share information on relevant meetings and involve GCRMN members in future monitoring (including the integration of biophysical monitoring with social, economic and environmental data), and assist Network members by the networking of technical assistance, problem-solving, participation in projects and to assist in seeking financial support
- Make coral reef monitoring data publicly available online in a timely fashion.
In addition to these priorities the GCRMN also works to:
- Link people and existing organizations to monitor the ecological, social, cultural and economic aspects of coral reefs within interacting regional networks.
- Strengthen the existing capacity across all regions for consistent and standard use of monitoring data that will effectively identify trends in coral reefs and will help discriminate between natural, anthropogenic, and climatic changes and allow this information to be compared in meaningful ways.
- Communicate results as widely as possible about the status and trends of coral reefs, and work with all levels of governance possible to assist communities and environmental management agencies with sustainable use and conservation practices.