Online Trainings

Brain coral, Samana Bay, Dominican Republic. Photo © Jeff Yonover

The Reef Resilience Online Courses have been designed to provide easy access to the latest science and strategies for managing coral reefs in a changing climate. Note: some of the courses are available in 3 languages: English, Espanol, and Français. Click on the course titles below to take the course.

The Remote Sensing and Mapping for Coral Reef Conservation Online Course is designed to help marine managers, conservation practitioners, scientists, decision makers, and GIS professionals decide whether remote sensing products and mapping technologies can help inform their conservation and restoration work, and which tools are best suited to their needs. It prominently features the Allen Coral Atlas, a powerful new tool providing access to high-resolution imagery and global benthic and geomorphic maps of the world’s coral reef habitats. The course also presents fine-scale mapping of live coral cover on small reef areas to guide restoration efforts in the Caribbean, developed by The Nature Conservancy. The course is available in four languages: opens in a new windowEnglish, opens in a new windowSpanish, opens in a new windowFrench, and opens in a new windowBahasa Indonesia.

This course was developed in partnership with the National Geographic Society and is hosted on The Nature Conservancy’s free online course platform Conservation Training. The lessons were developed with additional contributions from Arizona State University’s Center for Global Discovery and Conservation Science, Planet, The Nature Conservancy Caribbean Division, the University of Queensland’s Remote Sensing Research Center, and Vulcan Inc.

Introduction to Remote Sensing and Coral Reef Mapping – introduces the key concepts of remote sensing and its applications for marine conservation. The lesson aims to give you a basic understanding of remote sensing and mapping coral reefs from satellite imagery. It will give you the tools to decide if remote sensing can help your conservation work. Lesson 1 provides the core foundation for Lessons 2 and 3, and is designed for managers and practitioners with little background in remote sensing.

Using the Allen Coral Atlas – introduces the Atlas, its content, and applications for coral reef management, conservation, and research. The lesson provides background information and case studies and hands-on exercises that familiarize you with the data in the Atlas, demonstrates how to navigate its interactive mapping tool, and gives you step-by-step guidelines on how to use the data in more advanced applications.

Multi-Scale Mapping of Coral Reefs in the Caribbean – introduces the remote sensing technology to map coral reefs at a fine scale at some locations. Building on the previous two lessons, Lesson 3 is about new technology to address management questions that target live coral cover, reef health, and monitoring changes at the colony level. We provide case studies and hands-on activities that familiarize you with the latest Caribbean coral reef maps, demonstrate how to navigate the different mapping tools, and give you a preview of what remote sensing technology can achieve.

Coral reef managers are increasingly turning to restoration as a strategy to combat reef degradation and promote reef recovery. As a result, different techniques are being used across the globe, making it difficult to choose the right approach for your location’s specific needs and capabilities. The Reef Resilience Network Restoration Online Course is designed to provide managers and practitioners with information on the latest restoration best practices for coral reef ecosystems, including guidance on restoration planning and program design and descriptions of a diversity of restoration approaches currently being employed. The course includes 6 lessons in English and Spanish with assessments:

Introduction to Restoration & Project Planning – introduces the general theory and practice of ecological restoration and its use in coral reef ecosystems and provides a guided process for planning and designing a coral reef restoration program, from setting objectives through determining on-the-ground restoration actions, which is based on the Manager’s Guide to Coral Reef Restoration Planning & Design (The Nature Conservancy).  

Restoring Coral Populations with Coral Gardening – describes the steps involved in restoring populations of hard corals using the techniques and approaches known as ‘coral gardening’. These techniques include collection of coral fragments from reefs, types of coral nurseries, the propagation and growth of colonies in field-based nurseries, and transplantation (or outplanting) of corals back onto reefs.

Restoring Coral Populations with Larval Propagation – describes the steps involved in enhancing coral populations using the techniques and approaches known as larval propagation. This lesson includes information on coral’s natural sexual reproduction process, and describes methods for collecting and fertilizing coral gametes, rearing new coral larvae and promoting settlement onto the reef or artificial structures, and outplanting corals back onto reefs.

Restoring Reef Structure for Coastal Resilience – describes restoring the physical structure of coral reef ecosystems, an important intervention for habitats that have been damaged, degraded, or become unsuitable for coral larval settlement. This lesson is based on the Guidance Document for Reef Management and Restoration to Improve Coastal Protection: Recommendations for Global Applications Based on Lessons Learned in Mexico (The Nature Conservancy).

Rapid Response and Emergency Restoration – describes how to prepare for, respond to, and then repair coral reef ecosystems after disturbance events. Recommendations in this lesson focus on responding to three major causes of damage: tropical cyclones, vessel groundings, and disease epidemics. The hurricane response section is based on the Early Warning and Immediate Response Protocol for Tropical Cyclone Reef Impact in Puerto Morelos Reef National Park (The Nature Conservancy).

Monitoring for Restoration – describes approaches for monitoring coral reef restoration projects in order to evaluate their success and development. This lesson discusses current practices for monitoring, including methods and metrics that assess individual coral colonies and the broader ecological effects of restoration on reef sites. This lesson also provides recommendations for standard monitoring metrics that can be used to help compare across projects.

This course is designed to help coral reef managers incorporate climate-smart design into their management activities by considering the effects of climate change on ecosystem stressors and implications for effective management. It describes the process of incorporating climate change adaptation into management plans using existing planned actions as a starting point, and also guides development of additional climate-smart strategies as needed. The course takes about 2 hours to complete and includes the following lessons:

Principles of Climate-Smart Planning (20 minutes) – key concepts of Climate-Smart Conservation, including why and how to brainstorm and design management actions to account for the effects of climate change.

Introduction to the Adaptation Design Tool (20 minutes) – overview of the Adaptation Design Tool, how it works, and best practices for using it effectively.

Applying Climate-Smart Design Considerations to Existing Conservation & Management Actions (45 minutes) – demonstrates Activity 1 of the Adaptation Design Tool, which applies climate-smart design considerations to (1) identify climate change impacts on the effectiveness of your management actions and (2) consider what changes should be made to the actions based on those impacts.

Expanding the List of Adaptation Options & Course Conclusion (30 minutes) – demonstrates Activity 2 of the Adaptation Design Tool, which identifies gaps in your existing plan, helps you brainstorm new actions to fill those gaps, and concludes with next steps on how the tool results can be used to inform other steps of the Climate-Smart Conservation Cycle.

This course is designed to provide a basic understanding of coral reef resilience. It includes three lessons that address the value of coral reefs, local and global stressors causing reef decline, ecological and social resilience and how managers are working to build resilience in coral reef ecosystems. The lessons incorporate new science and management strategies, lessons learned, and case studies. Available in 3 languages: English, Espanol, and Français.  The course takes about 1 hour to complete and includes the following lessons:

Overview of Coral Reefs and Resilience (20 minutes) – overview of reef ecosystems and the concept of resilience.

Coral Reef Stressors (20 minutes) – introduces the global, local, and multi-scale stressors that are impacting coral reef ecosystems.

Building Reef Resilience (25 minutes) – introduces management strategies aimed at building reef resilience and includes two case studies that describe how some of these strategies are being implemented.


This course is designed to provide coral reef managers and practitioners in-depth guidance on managing for resilience. It provides a comprehensive discussion of local and global stressors affecting coral reefs, guidance for identifying reef resilience, design principles for resilient MPA networks, methods for implementing resilience assessments, and introduces communication tools for managers. Available in 3 languages: English, Espanol, and Français. The course takes about 9 hours to complete and includes the following lessons:

Module 1: Coral Reef Ecosystem Stressors and Impacts – explores global coral reef stressors related to climate and ocean changes including: warming seas, ocean acidification, sea-level rise, and changes in storm patterns. The impacts of local and regional stressors are also examined. Finally, coral bleaching, a major stress response of corals is addressed including: what causes bleaching, the social and ecological impacts of bleaching, mass bleaching events, and what drives bleaching susceptibility and recovery. Lessons include:

Coral Reef Ecosystem Stressors – Climate and Ocean Change (40 minutes)
Local and Regional Coral Reef Ecosystem Stressors (25 minutes)
Coral Bleaching (40 minutes)

Module 2: Understanding Coral Reef Resilience – explores the concept of resilience in greater detail, building on the definitions of ecological, social, and coral reef resilience from the Introduction to Coral Reef Resilience course (above). Two important ecological processes that support resilience are also examined: coral recruitment and herbivory. Conditions that support coral settlement and survivorship and the role of healthy herbivore populations to inform coral reef monitoring and management efforts are also addressed. Lessons include:

Ecological, Social, and Coral Reef Resilience (35 minutes)
Ecological Processes that Support Resilience (45 minutes)

Module 3: Monitoring and Assessment – discusses the key steps to developing a monitoring plan including: setting objectives, selecting indicators, establishing thresholds and triggers, monitoring methods, and sampling design. Responsive, participatory, and socioeconomic monitoring are examined in detail. Guidance is provided on how to conduct resilience assessments and monitoring and includes details on how to analyze the relative resilience of coral reef sites. Analyzing the resilience of a site can help managers to determine how resilient one site is relative to others in the area; such information can be used to help prioritize local-scale actions to support healthy coral reef ecosystems. Lessons include:

Monitoring and Assessment Basics (20 minutes)
Types of Monitoring (30 minutes)
Assessing and Monitoring Reef Resilience (40 minutes)
Analyzing Relative Resilience (45 minutes)

Module 4: Managing for Resilience – discusses a wide range of management strategies implemented around the world to support reef resilience. Strategies are presented including: reducing land-based sources of pollution, managing recreational impacts to reefs, controlling invasive species, managing fisheries and responding to coral disease. Restoration actions are presented to support recovery of coral reefs and associated habitats following disturbances. Key considerations are also included that should be addressed before undertaking coral reef restoration efforts. Lessons include:

Managing Local Stressors (40 minutes)
Managing Multiple Scale Stressors (25 minutes)
Ecological Restoration (40 minutes)

Module 5: Designing Resilient MPAs – focuses on the guiding principles and recommendations to support the development and implementation of resilient marine protected areas (MPAs). The principles of effective management, representation and replication, critical areas, and connectivity are discussed in detail. Specific guidance is provided on how to apply resilience principles to MPA design that integrate fisheries, biodiversity and climate change objectives. Lessons include:

Principles and Recommendations for Resilient MPAs (60 minutes)

Module 6: Communication and Achieving Conservation Goals – explores the importance of using strategic communication tools to achieve effective coral reef management. Talking points are provided to help managers communicate about coral reef resilience. A step-by-step process illustrates how to develop a communication strategy, and includes guidance on how a communication strategy or social marketing campaign may be used to achieve conservation goals. Managers also receive guidance on clearly defining communication objectives and developing a set of coordinated messages, activities, and products to achieve them. Lessons include:

Importance of Communication (35 minutes)
Developing a Communication Strategy (30 minutes)

Looking to influence behavior or raise awareness about an issue to advance your conservation efforts? The new Strategic Communication Online Course can help you communicate effectively to reach your conservation goal! This training features hands-on exercises, tips and resources, and quizzes to test your understanding of the material. We’ve demystified strategic communication and simplified the planning process so you can work on your own project as you learn. This course is free and open to anyone, but is geared toward coral reef managers and practitioners. The course content covers the communication planning processgoal & objectivescontext, target audience(s)messages, messengers and tactics, measurement, and summary plan.

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