Increasing protection: corals and mangroves

WWF has been active in coral reef conservation since the early 1970s. We have successfully combined fieldwork and advocacy to deliver impressive results.
Some of our biggest wins include:
  • A commitment by the six Coral Triangle nations through the Coral Triangle Initiative to protect the marine environment and resources of the region. The Coral Triangle Initiative Leaders’ Declaration is the most detailed regional action plan for ocean conservation ever seen.
  • Campaigning for a new zoning plan for Australia's Great Barrier Reef Marine Park that created the world’s largest network of marine highly protected areas.
  • New commitments for coral and mangrove protection on every continent, including a commitment by the government of Fiji to protect at least 30% of its seas in MPAs by 2020.
  • The passing of the Marine Turtle Conservation Act by the US Senate, establishing a fund for marine turtle conservation of which a good portion is expected to be used for coral and mangrove protection.
  • An EU Regulation to eliminate trawling near the UK's Darwin Mounds, effectively protecting this cold-water reef from its most deadly threat.
  • The incorporation of cold-water coral protection worldwide on the agendas of the International Coral Reef Initiative (ICRI) and UNEP's Coral Reef Unit.
  • Application of the EU Habitats and Birds Directives to include the full extent of the maritime jurisdiction of EU member states, thus protecting a number of cold-water coral habitats throughout European seas.
Coral reef, Fiji. / ©: WWF / Cat HOLLOWAY
Coral reef, Fiji.

Why protect corals and mangroves?

Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) help by reducing stresses such as destructive fishing practices and overfishing.

This makes these ecosystems more resilient and so less vulnerable to other threats like global warming, pollution, and sediment run-off from the land. For example, the absence of other stresses makes it easier for tropical corals to recover from a coral bleaching incident.

More on corals and mangroves...


  • Roughly 50% of coral reefs worldwide have disappeared
  • At current rates of temperature rise, coral reefs will be gone by 2050
  • More than 35% of the world's mangroves are already gone, and the figure is as high as 50% in some countries
  • Deforestation rate of mangroves exceeds even the loss of forests by 3-5 times

Facts & figures

    • Roughly 1/5 of coral reefs worldwide are already considered damaged beyond repair
    • Another 2/3 under serious threat
    • More than 35% of the world's mangroves are already gone, and the figure is as high as 50% in some countries
    • Less than 1% of the remaining mangrove forests are adequately protected

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