Testing the first phase of the 'gardening concept' as an applicable tool in restoring denuded reefs in Tanzania

Nsajigwa E.J. Mbije, Ehud Spanier, Baruch Rinkevich

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Studies on coral reef restoration through a two-step coral gardening protocol have lately proved it to be a viable solution for future reef restoration. This involves a first step of gardening small colonies in mid-water nurseries and a second step, their transplantation, upon reaching suitable size, onto the pre-surveyed damaged areas. We established in September 2007 two mid-water nurseries, each holding 10,000 fragments measuring 2 cm average initial size, at 4 m depths (high tide) in Zanzibar and Mafia Islands, Tanzania. Each nursery comprised six species, each of which was represented by three genotypes. During 9 months, we followed developments by analyzing and comparing survivorship and growth rates of fragments between the different nurseries, species and genotypes. A significant difference between species survival and growth rates was observed in acroporid species, in Pocillopora verrucosa and Millepora sp., which showed better success than Porites cylindrica. In both sites, Millepora suffered no mortality and other species exhibited low mortality, ranging (per coral genotype) between 3% and 24% in Zanzibar (most cases below 10%) and between 13% and 44% (mostly below 25%) in Mafia Island. Most of fragments' mortality occurred during the first two nursery months. Coral species in Zanzibar nursery also performed better in growth rates than those in Mafia, but in both sites, farmed corals were ready for transplantation just 9 months after the nursery was set up. Economic evaluations involved in the overall nursery set-up and the results indicated that the coral gardening approach could be used in Tanzania to generate large quantities of coral colonies for the restoration of damaged reefs at relatively low cost.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)713-721
Number of pages9
JournalEcological Engineering
Issue number5
StatePublished - May 2010

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This study is part of the PhD dissertation of N. Mbije and was supported by grants from the World Bank/GEF and the EU INCO-DEV ( REEFRES-510657 ) projects. We thank the Institute of Marine Science in Zanzibar for financial support and E. Edward for field assistance throughout this study.


  • Coral gardening
  • Mafia Island
  • Mid-water nurseries
  • Zanzibar

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Environmental Engineering
  • Nature and Landscape Conservation
  • Management, Monitoring, Policy and Law


Dive into the research topics of 'Testing the first phase of the 'gardening concept' as an applicable tool in restoring denuded reefs in Tanzania'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this