[Coral-List] Reef restoration?

Ade Lambo adelambo at blueyonder.co.uk
Tue Nov 7 09:09:43 EST 2006

Coral listers, 
My point is not directly related to bleaching, SSTs or the wider debate on climate change. I am particularly interested in the work that the some organisations are undertaking with reef restoration projects. My point is that given the widespread coral mortality exhibited within reefs worldwide, attributed to numerous impacts, can such relatively small-scale projects be effective tools in reef restoration. My scepticism is based on a few points:

1) The costs (raw materials, manpower, diver costs, electicity etc..) dramatically reduces the applicability of such projects on degraded reefs often located within developing nations. 
2) The time-consuming nature of the project (diving, building the structures etc..) again dramatically limits the scope of such projects. Only very small patches of reef can be 'restored'
3) There is a danger that 'reef restoration' may become a useful tool for developers and polluters who will point to 'successfull' restoration projects as a reason to favour transplantation/restoration rather than implementing best practice and environmentally sensitive procedures. It is often easier to allocate a pot of money to restore/transplant a reef elsewhere rather than addressing the real issue of sustainable development. 

In most developing nations such methods would simply not work as effective restoration/recovery efforts due to the costs, logisitcs and most importantly the scale of coral mortality. I do feel that such methods (ReefBall, Birock etc..) do have a very important place in coral conservation. Their application in enhancing localised patches of reef growth, often close to land, can provide very effective areas for tourist, educational purposes. The creation of snorkelling trails and similar projects may be effective in alleviating impacts and stress on more established tourist sites and can be effective tools in educating people in reef ecology. I think that it would be harsh to lable such efforts as gimmicks but i feel that this may be the only effective use of such methods in wider reef restoration efforts. 

I have enjoyed the recent postings and debate on the forum and eagely await reply/comments.

Ade Lambo

PhD candidate 
Unviversity of London
University Marine Biological Station, Millport.

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