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UH researchers find that cooperation is key in reducing sediment runoff to West Maui reefs

Aerial image of West Maui watershed PC: UH

Coral reefs around the world are threatened by increased runoff of sediment and other land-based pollutants, affecting the production of goods and services critical to many coastal residents. To address the challenge of managing these pollutants with limited resources, assistant professor and ecological economist Kirsten Oleson and her former graduate students in the department of Natural Resources and Environmental Management, Kim Falinski and Joey Lecky, recently published a new paper in the Journal of Environmental Management. In this study, “Upstream Solutions to Coral Reef Conservation: The Payoffs of Smart and Cooperative Decision Making,” the team shows how cooperation among landowners to reduce sediment runoff to nearshore reefs results in more cost efficient and ecologically effective outcomes than when landowners act independently. This paper is part of the larger Ocean Tipping Points project, which seeks to understand and characterize dramatic shifts in ocean ecosystems and develop new tools to help managers avoid or respond to such shifts.

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