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

Coral under water

Completed project

Project start: February 2017  |  Project end: October 2017
Funder: UK Global Challenges Research Fund
Principal Investigator: Dr Caroline Hattam

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 drew 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 the project, a team of interdisciplinary researchers drew 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 were a partnership between PML, the Universities of Exeter and Cardiff, Indeva Consulting, The Islamic Foundation for Ecology and Environmental Sciences (IFEES), Mwambao Coastal Community Network, Zanzibar and two freelance artists in the UK and Reef Conservation in Mauritius.

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Project achievements

- 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, to identify ways in which these initiatives can be refined to better build resilience.
- Development 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, to identify possibilities for future collaboration.

Download the Mauritius workshop summary report (May 2017)

Download the UK workshop summary report (Sept 2017)

Coral Communities Newspaper

We want to take you on a short journey through the activities of the Coral Communities project and show you how participatory visual approaches can be used to engage with communities to help them express how they interact with their environment, how they are working with environmental change and what their aspirations are.

Download the Newspaper - English version (PDF - 6MB)  /  Download the Newspaper - French version (PDF - 6MB)


Project video

Coral Communities Film from andyhughes on Vimeo.


Coral Communities: Socio-ecological Resilience of Fundo Islanders

Coral Communities: Socio-ecological Resilience of Fundo Islanders from Mwambao Network on Vimeo.

Pocket book video guide

Pocket book video guideA "Pocket book" video guide has been produced which explains how to get the best shots when working with video.

Download it here



Resilience Report Cards

The Coral Communities project engaged with stakeholders from across the Western Indian Ocean (WIO) and from the UK to discuss the concept of resilience and the strategies used in practice to help build social and ecological resilience in coastal locations. The Coral Communities team also undertook a review of the (English language) literature to assess the evidence available on the social and ecological implications of 14 strategies that have been used in the WIO region to help build both social and ecological resilience to the drivers of coral reef decline. 

As a result of these activities, summary report cards have been created for each of the strategies. These have been written with a practitioner or non-academic audience in mind. The report cards provide a brief introduction to the different strategies and the assumptions for resilience that underpin them. They provide information about the social and ecological impacts that have been documented or suggested for each strategy and the implications arising from these impacts for resilience. A case study has been included in each report illustrating how the strategies have been applied in the WIO region. The sources of information used to create the report cards, plus some additional reading are provided. Where possible open access resources are included.

Download the report cards:

  1. Introduction - English / Francais
  2. Environmental education - English / Francais
  3. Ethics, faith-based and customary practices - English / Francais
  4. Population, reproductive health and environment - English / Francais
  5. Alternative livelihoods - English / Francais
  6. Micro-finance - English / Francais
  7. Payments for ecosystem services (PES) - English / Francais
  8. Eco-labelling of fish and fish products - English / Francais
  9. Fisheries management: fishing gear and effort restrictions - English / Francais
  10. Fisheries management: fish aggregating devices (FADs) - English / Francais
  11. Fisheries management: community-based management of small-scale fisheries - English / Francais
  12. Post-harvest improvements in fisheries - English / Francais
  13. Marine protected areas (MPAs) - English / Francais
  14. Mangrove restoration - English / Francais
  15. Coral reef restoration - English / Francais
  16. All report cards - English / Francais  

More information and feedback

- If you have tested out our visual method, please send us a photo of you doing it. We would love to get your feedback.

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

​View images and video from the project on Instagram or follow the hashtag #​coralcommunities on Twitter.

The Team

Mark Bryant
Mark Bryant
Louisa Evans
Louisa Evans
Caroline Hattam
Caroline Hattam
Tara Hooper
Tara Hooper
Andy Hughes
Andy Hughes
Fazlun Khalid
Karyn Morrissey
Karyn Morrissey
Jason Parsons
Jason Parsons
Ali Thani
Ali Thani
Photo of Susanne Turrall
Susanne Turrall
Dominica Williamson
Dominica Williamson
Kathy YoungKathy Young


PML Logo Reef conservation logo Cardiff University logo Indeva logo
Ifees Ecoislam logo Tagscape logo Truro college and Penwith college logos Mwambao coastal community network
Exeter Environment and sustainability Institute logo Exeter Medical School Logo European Centre for Environment & Human Health Logo  

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