Organised and hosted by Reef Conservation UK in association with the Zoological Society of London, the International Society for Reef Studies and the University of Oxford, ECRS 2017 brought together researchers, practitioners and students from all over the world to discuss the most pressing matters facing coral reefs and what can be done to address them.
High on the list of priorities was plastic pollution, and the entire event had a strong theme of sustainability: reusable water bottles only, refillable bamboo coffee cups, and even environmentally friendly toothbrushes! It was a great reminder of the small changes that we can all make to our everyday lives in order to be more environmentally responsible.
The working group was highly engaging and well attended. Themes included the growing consensus that citizen scientists play a crucial role in gathering vast amounts of data to inform conservation and management actions, and that engaging, empowering, motivating and acknowledging volunteers are key components of successful programmes. It was agreed that well mobilised and highly effective citizen scientists have a significant capacity to bring about meaningful and positive change. ERIC was privileged to present our team of community-based field technicians as a shining example from the field of how a team of dedicated community members can become proud resource management stakeholders and committed conservationists.