West Indian Ocean coral reef RLE Inception workshop

Last month I flew to Mombasa, a coastal town in Kenya for the West Indian Ocean (WIO) coral reef Red List of Ecosystems (RLE) Inception workshop from 12-15 March 2019. The workshop was co-organised by the IUCN and David Obura, Mishal Gudka and their team of experts at Coastal Oceans Research and Development – Indian Ocean East Africa (CORDIO EA)

Distribution of coral reefs in the West Indian Ocean

The workshop was comprised of 30 specialists in coral reefs and marine ecosystems from governments and NGOs across 8 countries along the West Indian Ocean (Comoros, Kenya, Madagascar, Mauritius, Mozambique, Seychelles, South Africa and Tanzania).

Myself, David Keith (University of New South Wales, Australia) and Marcos Valderrabano (IUCN) acted as the RLE trainers, presenting sessions on the foundations, concepts and applications of the RLE, along with detailed sessions on each RLE criteria. My task was to explain how to measure risk of collapse of an ecosystem based on changes in key ecological processes and features (i.e. criteria C and D). I also briefly explained the model used to simulate future risk in the Meso-American Reef [link] to demonstrate a possible approach to assessing RLE criterion E (estimating the probability of collapse).

The CORDIO EA team led preliminary discussions on how the RLE could be applied to the WOI coral reefs at regional and national levels, including opportunities, data needs and challenges in applying the RLE.

By all accounts the workshop was a great success! For me, this was an excellent opportunity take on the new challenge of training others in the RLE. It was a valuable opportunity to engage with the CORDIO and IUCN RLE teams to get a practical sense of how the RLE can be applied and understand some of the real world challenges.

Filming for RLE online training course

RLE godfather David Keith being interviewed by Camilla Turner

Alongside running the training workshop, myself, Nima Raghunathan (RLE programme officer, IUCN) and Elisa Cavato (IUCN) coordinated filming of the workshop and a series of interviews. We interviewed resident RLE expert David Keith, Marcos Valderrabano, members of the CORDIO team and workshop participants to get insights into the RLE process and how and why it can be such a useful tool for conservation and decision making. The interviews and workshop were filmed by videographer Camilla Turner. The content will be used in online training courses for the RLE that are currently under development.

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