Social Science Program

Scientists and coastal managers know that solely focusing on biophysical research and monitoring can lead to ineffective management of coral reefs and coastal resources. Many key drivers of coral reef ecosystem decline are linked to human behavior and activities, including urban and coastal development, tourism, overfishing, coastal pollution, and global climate change.

Ala Moana Beach Park in Honolulu, Hawaii.
From protecting coastal development to creating beautiful beaches, coral reefs support communities and economies in a variety of ways. This scene of Ala Moana Beach Park in Honolulu, Hawaii illustrates some of the many uses of coastal resources. Credit: Peter Edwards, NOAA
What We Are Doing

Our Social Science Program improves coral reef management by recognizing people and society as part of the coral reef ecosystem and incorporating related data into coral reef management strategies. The program provides critical information on how society values coral reefs. This deeper understanding of the human connections to coral reefs helps managers assess the social and economic consequences of coral reef management policies, interventions, and activities.

training international and domenstic coral reef conservation partners
NOAA supports international and domestic coral reef conservation partners by building capacity in the management and analysis of socioeconomic data. Credit Peter Edwards, NOAA
Goals of the Social Science Program:
  1. Improve and enhance capacity to answer key questions about coral reef management
  2. Continue implementation of the socioeconomic component of the National Coral Reef Monitoring Program
  3. Increase collaboration in socioeconomic research across NOAA offices to improve jurisdictional capacity for local management and decision-making
  4. Streamline dissemination of social science information to support national and jurisdictional needs
  5. Strengthen existing community-based management efforts and increase community participation in place-based managed activities in the jurisdictions
  6. Develop and apply social science tools—including the economic valuation of ecosystem services—to enhance the Coral Reef Conservation Program's management and conservation activities
  7. Understand the socioeconomic implications of climate change in coral reef jurisdictions
  8. Continue the Coral Reef Conservation Program's global leadership in facilitating socioeconomic monitoring by supporting the Global Socioeconomic Monitoring Initiative for Coastal Management (SocMon—and in the Pacific Region, SEM-Pasifika)
Beachgoers in Oahu, Hawaii
Beachgoers in Oahu, Hawaii enjoy the calm, protected shoreline thanks to the coral reefs just offshore. Credit: Peter Edwards, NOAA