Coral Communities: Building Socio-Ecological Resilience to Coral Reef Degradation in the Islands of the Western Indian Ocean.​

PML contact: Dr Caroline Hattam

Funder: UK Global Challenges Research Fund

Start date: February 2017
End date: October 2017


Improving the resilience of communities and coral reefs to changes anticipated as a result of climate change is an issue of huge global importance. Hundreds of millions of people rely on coral reefs to provide essential services such as food and coastal protection. These ecosystems also contribute significantly to national economies through sectors such as tourism.

This interdisciplinary project aims to draw together a network of UK-Western Indian Ocean (WIO) collaborators to address evidence gaps and support the development of resilience strategies across the WIO.

Within this project, a team of interdisciplinary researchers will draw on expertise in environmental and health economics, social sciences, development, social psychology, marine geosciences, marine biology, art (including concept and design development and film making) and religious studies. ​The team are a partnership between PML, the Universities of Exeter and Cardiff, Indeva Consulting, The Islamic Foundation for Ecology and Environmental Sciences (IFEES) and two freelance artists in the UK and Reef Conservation in Mauritius.

This will be achieved through:

- A literature review, assessing the extent to which the initiatives used to manage coral reefs are successful in building community and reef resilience.
- A stakeholder workshop in Mauritius (week of 8th May), to identify ways in which these initiatives can be refined to better build resilience.
- Develop and pilot of a novel, arts-based approach for assessing perceptions of the environment and the socio-cultural risk associated with different resilience strategies.
- A second stakeholder workshop in the UK (week of 11th September), to identify possibilities for future collaboration.

Which resilience strategies?

The researchers are interested in strategies that support coral reef ecosystems and the communities who interact with them to cope with external stresses and disturbances. These strategies range for those entirely focused on community development (e.g. introduction of new technology, health programmes and microfinancing) to fisheries management, financing and certification schemes, marine protected areas and reef restoration (e.g. coral gardening). 

How can you get involved?

- Offer feedback on the structure and content of the project's literature review, to ensure the evidence gathered is relevant to your work.
- Participate in the planned workshop in Mauritius (up to eight delegates from across the WIO can be supported attend).
​- Test out the arts-based approach for assessing resilience strategies developed by this project.
- Participate in the planned UK workshop (support to delegates may be available).

If you would like more information, please contact PML's Dr Caroline Hattam ( or Kathy Young from Reef Conservation (

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