Conservation of coral reefs through active restoration measures: Recent approaches and last decade progress

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The scientific discipline of active restoration of denuded coral reef areas has drawn much attention in the past decade as it became evident that this ecosystem does not often recover naturally from anthropogenic stress without manipulation. Essentially, the choices are either the continuous degradation of the reefs or active restoration to encourage reef development. As a result, worldwide restoration operations during the past decade have been recognized as being a major tool for reef rehabilitation. This situation has also stirred discussions and debates on the various restoration measures suggested as management options, supplementary to the traditional conservation acts. The present essay reviews past decade's (1994-2004) approaches and advances in coral reef restoration. While direct coral transplantation is still the primer vehicle of operations used, the concept of in situ and ex situ coral nurseries (the gardening concept), where coral materials (nubbins, branches, spats) are maricultured to a size suitable for transplantation, has been gaining recognition. The use of nubbins (down to the size of a single or few polyps) has been suggested and employed as a unique technique for mass production of coral colonies. Restoration of ship grounding sites and the use of artificial reefs have become common tools for specific restoration needs. Substrate stabilization, 3-D structural consideration of developing colonies, and the use of molecular/biochemical tools are part of novel technology approaches developed in the past decade. Economic considerations for reef restoration have become an important avenue for evaluating success of restoration activities. It has been suggested that landscape restoration and restoration genetics are important issues to be studied. In the future, as coral reef restoration may become the dominant conservation act, there would be the need not only to develop improved protocols but also to define the conceptual bases.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)4333-4342
Number of pages10
JournalEnvironmental Science and Technology
Issue number12
StatePublished - 15 Jun 2005
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Chemistry
  • Environmental Chemistry


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