Reducing the global reliance on fossil fuels is essential to ensure the long-term survival of coral reefs, but until this happens, alternative tools are required to safeguard their future. One emerging tool is to locate areas where corals are surviving well despite the changing climate. Such locations include refuges, refugia, hotspots of resilience, bright spots, contemporary near-pristine reefs, and hope spots that are collectively named reef ‘safe havens' in this mini-review. Safe havens have intrinsic value for reefs through services such as environmental buffering, maintaining near-pristine reef conditions, or housing corals naturally adapted to future environmental conditions. Spatial and temporal variance in physicochemical conditions and exposure to stress however preclude certainty over the ubiquitous long-term capacity of reef safe havens to maintain protective service provision. To effectively integrate reef safe havens into proactive reef management and contingency planning for climate change scenarios, thus requires an understanding of their differences, potential values, and predispositions to stress. To this purpose, I provide a high-level review on the defining characteristics of different coral reef safe havens, how they are being utilised in proactive reef management and what risk and susceptibilities they inherently have. The mini-review concludes with an outline of the potential for reef safe haven habitats to support contingency planning of coral reefs under an uncertain future from intensifying climate change.

You do not currently have access to this content.