Applying forest restoration principles to coral reef rehabilitation

N. Epstein, R. P.M. Bak, B. Rinkevich

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


1. Forest restoration through silviculture (gardening) programs revives productivity, biodiversity, and stability. As in silviculture approaches, the coral 'gardening' strategy is based on a two-step protocol. 2. The first step deals with the establishment of in situ and/or ex situ coral nurseries in which corals are farmed (originating from two types of source material: asexual [ramets, nubbins], and sexual [planula larvae, spat] recruits). 3. The second is the reef rehabilitation step, where maricultured colonies are transplanted into degraded sites. 4. We compare here the rationale of forest restoration to coral reef ecosystem restoration by evaluating major key criteria. As in silviculture programs, a sustainable mariculture operation that focuses on the prime structural component of the reef ('gardening' with corals) may promote the persistence of threatened coral populations, as well as that of other reef taxa, thus maintaining genetic diversity. In chronically degrading reef sites this may facilitate a halt in biodiversity depletion. 5. Within the current theoretical framework of ecosystem restoration, the recovery of biodiversity indices is considered a core element since a rich species diversity provides higher ecosystem resilience to disturbances. 6. The gardening measure may also be implemented worldwide, eliminating the need to extract existing colonies for transplantation operations. At degraded reef sites, the coral gardening strategy can assist in managing human and non-human stakeholders' requirements as is done in forest management.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)387-395
Number of pages9
JournalAquatic Conservation: Marine and Freshwater Ecosystems
Issue number5
StatePublished - Sep 2003
Externally publishedYes


  • Coral mariculture
  • Forest restoration
  • In situ nurseries
  • Reef management
  • Reef restoration
  • Silviculture

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Aquatic Science
  • Ecology
  • Nature and Landscape Conservation


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