World Conservation Monitoring Centre's Marine and Coastal Programme
Oceans cover some 71% of the world's surface. They play an essential
role in the maintenance of life on the planet and yet are often
threatened by human activities. The coastal zones, which include some
of the most diverse and productive marine ecosystems, such as coral
reefs, seagrass beds, mangrove forests, tidal mudflats, and kelp
forests, are particularly important and vulnerable. WCMC's marine
programme aims to compile information on these ecosystems and the
conservation of the species which they harbour. A number of ongoing
projects contribute to the overall programme:
Coral Reefs Since the publication, in 1988 of the 3-volume Coral Reefs
of the World WCMC has been acclaimed as a centre of expertise in these
important ecosystems. In support of ReefBase, a project run by the
International Center for Living Aquatic Resources Management (ICLARM)
in Manila, WCMC has been developing digital maps of coral reefs of the
world. Draft maps have been prepared for all countries and for 45, the
reefs have now been mapped at scales of 1:250,000 or better. These
maps have been incorporated into the CD of Reefbase, a highly detailed
database first released in 1996. These maps are also available on
Internet at the following address
The use of GIS for storing the data has enabled the calculation of
global and regional estimates of reef area.
Mangrove Atlas In association with the International Society for
Mangrove Ecosystems and the International Tropical Timber
Organization, WCMC has recently completed work on a World Mangrove
Atlas, published in 1997.
Mangrove Protected Areas In 1993, a survey was undertaken of protected
areas with mangrove ecosystems. This resulted in the development
of a database of some 1200 protected mangrove sites.
Poster Map of Coral Reefs and Mangroves of the World Using mapped
coral reef and mangrove data, an educational poster has been
published, with support from BHP Ltd.
Marine Protected Areas The WCMC Protected Areas Database includes some
35,000 protected areas.
Threatened and Endemic Marine Species A large number of threatened
marine organisms are recorded in the WCMC species database.
Data have also been exchanged with Fishbase, a global database on
fish distribution maintained by ICLARM, and with the IUCN Coral
Reef Fish Specialist Group. Related publications include Dolphins,
Porpoises and Whales of the World; the IUCN Red Data Book and The
IUCN Invertebrate Red Data Book.
Sea Turtle Nest Sites Preliminary maps of feeding and nesting sites of
all species of marine turtles have been produced for the world.
Sirenia Similar work is now being undertaken to map the global
distribution of Sirenians (manatees and Dugong).
IPIECA and the Biodiversity Map Library Biodiversity Map Library (BML)
is a user-interface designed to store and access a range of
environmental information in Geographic Information Systems (GIS)
Seagrass Beds In collaboration with IUCN Marine Programme, a global
survey of the extent and status of
seagrass beds is planned.
For more information on the Long-term Monitoring Program