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In an effort to improve coral reef preservation policies and practices, the International Society for Reef Studies (ISRS) is launching a series of briefing papers on advances in conservation research.

The papers will discuss new information on issues critical to the future of coral reefs as well as the cultures and countries that depend on them. In this way, the ISRS hopes to increase scientific contributions to policy formulation.

The first four ISRS briefing papers will be presented at the 10th International Coral Reef Symposium in Okinawa, Japan, which begins on June 27. In future years, the society will prepare four or more papers, with topics proposed by ISRS members worldwide.

Nicholas Polunin of Newcastle University, United Kingdom, and president of the society, says, "These papers will present an objective and rigorous presentation of coral reef science as related to current issues in the management, use and conservation of the world's reef resources."

Previously, the society had avoided taking positions on specific developments or projects impacting reefs. But it says there is overwhelming membership support for a more proactive role in communicating scientific findings to a broader audience.

"We should be promoting important scientific information applied to important management and conservation issues," says Polunin. 

As an example of the need for such research summaries, the society cites an update it produced on a World Bank technical paper on harbour development, which showed the devastation the proposed project could potentially have caused.

In future, the ISRS hopes to guide organisations such as the World Bank and help them make policies that take into account the most recent findings in reef management and conservation.

The ISRS is an international membership organisation founded in 1980 by marine scientists to promote the production and dissemination of scientific knowledge on living and fossil coral reefs.

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