Climate change and active reef restoration-ways of constructing the "Reefs of Tomorrow"

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The continuous degradation of coral reef ecosystems on a global level, the disheartening expectations of a gloomy future for reefs' statuses, the failure of traditional conservation acts to revive most of the degrading reefs and the understanding that it is unlikely that future reefs will return to historic conditions, all call for novel management approaches. Among the most effective approaches is the "gardening" concept of active reef restoration, centered, as in silviculture, on a two-step restoration process (nursery and transplantation). In the almost two decades that passed from its first presentation, the "gardening" tenet was tested in a number of coral reefs worldwide, revealing that it may reshape coral reef communities (and associated biota) in such a way that novel reef ecosystems with novel functionalities that did not exist before are developed. Using the "gardening" approach as a climate change mediator, four novel ecosystem engineering management approaches are raised and discussed in this article. These include the take-home lessons approach, which considers the critical evaluation of reef restoration outcomes; the genetics approach; the use of coral nurseries as repositories for coral and reef species; and an approach that uses novel environmental engineering tactics. Two of these approaches (take-home lessons and using coral nurseries as repositories for reef dwelling organisms) already consider the uncertainty and the gaps in our knowledge, and they are further supported by the genetic approach and by the use of novel environmental engineering tactics as augmenting auxiliaries. Employing these approaches (combined with other novel tactics) will enhance the ability of coral reef organisms to adaptably respond to climate change.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)111-127
Number of pages17
JournalJournal of Marine Science and Engineering
Issue number1
StatePublished - 1 Mar 2015
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2015 by the authors; licensee MDPI, Basel, Switzerland.


  • Climate change
  • Connectivity
  • Coral repository
  • Environmental engineering
  • Gardening
  • Nursery
  • Planulae
  • Reef restoration
  • Stepping stones
  • Transplantation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Civil and Structural Engineering
  • Water Science and Technology
  • Ocean Engineering


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