Guardian High-resolution satellite images of the South China Sea have revealed a colossal and rapid destruction of some of the world’s most biodiverse coral reefs as China races to turn the pristine habitats into military outposts. by Oliver Holmes
'Prof John McManus, a leading marine biologist who analysed the
images, has told the Guardian the loss of thousands of acres of reef in
recent years constitutes the quickest rate of permanent loss of coral
reef area in human history.
'“Our generation holds temporary
responsibility for passing these highly diverse and incredibly beautiful
coral reef atolls to future generations,” McManus says. “We have failed
'Six countries – China, Vietnam, Malaysia, the
Philippines, Taiwan and Brunei – have competing claims to the more than
250 islands, reefs and sandbars in the South China Sea. The islands are
mostly uninhabited but rapid reclamation is endangering ecosystems that
are key to maintaining world fish stocks and biodiversity.
island-building is expanding. This week, new photos show China is
constructing a third airstrip on reclaimed territory, giving it an even
greater reach in the area.'