What is coral restoration?

Coral restoration

One of the successful strategies being implemented worldwide and regionally to counteract the threats coral reefs face is coral restoration. Coral restoration is a practice whereby reef managers, restoration practitioners, and scientists propagate coral through a variety of methodologies including micro fragmentation, coral gardening methods, and even sexual reproduction of corals, to name a few.

The basic premise behind coral restoration is to enhance coral populations, with a special focus on propagating coral species that are classified as endangered or threatened. The majority of coral restoration is carried out by growing coral fragments and then outplanting them back onto degraded areas of the reef. Outplanting is the practice of securing coral fragments to the reef substrate using zip ties, rope, nails, marine epoxy, or any other method restoration practitioners choose.

The ultimate goal of coral restoration is to effectively move away from active restoration to a more passive approach in the long run. This includes planting nursery-grown corals back onto reefs, maintaining genetic diversity, making sure the habitat is suitable for natural recruitment, and building and maintaining coral resilience to threats including climate change, unsustainable fishing practices, and land-based sources of pollution. Effective restoration drives the recovery of coral reef ecosystems (NOAA, 2021).