Think Ridge to Reef
What happens on land does not stay on land. Agriculture, logging, and infrastructure development alter terrestrial habitats, often leading to increased run-off of sediments and pollutants that degrade marine habitats. Earth’s changing climate exacerbates these threats and poses additional problems, including rising sea levels, rising sea surface temperatures, and acidification. Transportation infrastructure also allows increased access via new airports, roads, and bridges, which can lead to overuse and over-harvesting. Left unchecked, these pressures pose perpetual threats to marine systems, and must be addressed in marine conservation planning and management.
Marine managed areas (MMAs) are powerful and widely accepted methods for protecting and restoring valuable marine resources in tropical marine ecosystems. But MMAs are not enough. The leaders stressed that marine conservation must also tackle complex land use issues and highly recommended ridge-to-reef management to reduce critical land-based threats that are not addressed with MMAs alone. In many places, traditional management systems—such as Hawaiʻi’s ahupuaʻa system—recognize this critical land-sea linkage. Effective strategies to address ridge-to-reef management include policies and practices that minimize sedimentation, land-based pollution, nutrification, shoreline hardening, and other impacts on coastal systems.