A new paper, published in Frontiers in Marine Science, provides a synthesis of the coral reef restoration best-practice guidelines produced by ICRI and UNEP. Prepared by a team of experts in coral reef management, science and policy, and members of ICRI’s reef restoration ad-hoc committee, the publication presents:
- A case for the value of coral reef restoration in the face of increasing frequency and intensity of disturbances associated with climate change.
- A set of recommendations for improving the use of coral reef restoration as a reef management strategy, tailored to goals and current methods.
On the eve of the UN’s Decade on Ecosystem Restoration, the authors navigate the goals and methods of reef restoration, the arguments for, and against, it’s implementation and provide recommendations on how current strategies can be deployed to meet particular goals and situations.
Coral reef restoration can be a useful tool to support resilience, especially at local scales where coral recruitment is limited, and disturbances can be mitigated. A key recommendation of the paper highlights the importance of utilising reef restoration as an active intervention within a continuum of proactive and reactive actions. While there is limited evidence of long-term, ecologically relevant success of coral reef restoration efforts, ongoing investments in research and development are likely to improve the scale, and cost-efficiency of current methods.
To conclude, the authors state that coral reef restoration should not be seen as a “silver bullet” to address ecological decline and should be applied appropriately, with due diligence, and in concert with other broad reef resilience management strategies.