Environmental response planning

A monitoring and action tool used to identify early signs of reef stress and the types of responses management can implement to assist reef resilience and recovery.

Environmental response planning identifies management actions aimed at responding to acute events caused by climate-related stress, such as coral bleaching due to elevated sea temperatures or coral damage from hurricanes. Response plans include an ‘early warning system’ that draws on climate forecasting tools and field observations to detect early signs of stress or impacts on coral reef populations.  When these early signs of stress are observed, specific management actions are triggered that will assist reef populations during periods of short-term stress. Early warning systems integrated with responsive monitoring provide opportunities for managers to deploy responsive actions that limit the consequences of impacts and/or enhance population recovery. Such approaches have been developed for pollution incidents, coral bleaching, coral disease and hurricane damage in coral reef systems around the world.  Such responsive actions are likely to play an increasingly important role in conservation management as the climate changes.

Much of the information on environmental response planning focuses on disaster or pollution response, such as hurricanes or oil spills. However there are many examples of response plans that have been developed for coral reefs elsewhere that contain a framework applicable in the Caribbean.


Key publications

A framework for responding to coral disease outbreaks that facilitates adaptive management (2012) Beeden R, Maynard JA, Marshall PA, Heron SF and Willis BL Environmental management, 49(1): 1-13.

A strategic framework for responding to coral bleaching events in a changing climate (2009).  Maynard JA, Johnson JE, Marshall PA, Eakin CM, Goby G, Schuttenberg H and Spillman CM Environmental Management, 44(1): 1-11.