[Coral-List] Coral Reef Restoration?
reefpeace at yahoo.com
Sat May 17 05:01:56 EDT 2008
Noted your discourse.....typical.
In short...there is indeed NO Such thing as coral reef restoration and institutions, NGOs, etc that use this premise in their grant proposals should be Very careful as there are no examples or models that confirm that humans can, indeed, restore whole reef regions through ways and means today in the 21st century....and perhaps the best way to 'allow' restoration is to stop aberrant human affection and see if the reefs can do it themselves via mechanisms that we still have yet to understand.
Martin Moe <martin_moe at yahoo.com> wrote: Don,
Iâve thought long and hard about the basis for your
questions. Youâre sort of asking if that prescient childâs question to his
mother, âMommy, why doesnât the emperor have on any clothes?â has any
application to the subject of coral reef restoration. And the answer is Yes, and No. Many of your
questions are still seeking definition and answer, and some current efforts are not really restoration. Although there are
similarities to restoration of terrestrial natural areas, the differences are
profound. For what itâs worth, these are my thoughts on coral reef restoration.
There seem to be three basic categories of reef restoration
1. Specific physical site restoration after human impacts
such as ship groundings, cable laying, anchor damage, frequent diver
visitation, and storm impacts at vulnerable sites by debris such as wrecks and
This type of damage covers a small area, usually focuses on
damaging physical impacts on coral formations, and can be restored by
individually repairing, replacing, and resettling dislocated corals, and in
greatly impacted sites, by actually rebuilding the structure of the reef that
was destroyed. This category of coral reef restoration in Florida is largely funded by fines imposed
on grounded vessels and is well underway by Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary
staff. The technology for damaged site restoration has been employed for a
number of years and still being developed. It enhances relatively small, but
locally valuable, reef areas. Is this a worthwhile effort? In terms of the
health of the reefs on a regional scale, it probably has very little impact.
But on a local scale in terms of the relationship of the local community with
important and valuable small reef areas, it can have a great impact. Whether
the term ârestorationâ is appropriate or not depends on how the term
ârestorationâ is defined.
2. Preventative restoration efforts on a local and regional
These efforts include active management of direct human
impact on coral reefs and prevention and cessation of harmful terrestrial
effluents. Such efforts include local and regional water quality improvement by
eliminating and reducing pollution and sedimentation from on shore human
activities, establishment of MPAs, control of ship traffic, control of at sea
discharge from large vessels, prevention of oil and chemical spills and other
controls on human activities that negatively impact coral reef organisms.
Although recognized as producing great benefits to coral reef and general
ecosystem health in general, efforts to repair and prevent negative
environmental impacts from terrestrial human activities long term and variable
and the improvements to the reefs are difficult to definitively measure and
evaluate, particularly on a regional scale. Also distant sources of pollutants
are very difficult to identify and modify especially since the health of far
away coral reefs are not perceived as the concern of the polluters. Improvements
are much more obvious in small localized areas that have suffered intense
impacts that have been eliminated.
3. Ecological restoration on specific sites and on a
The concept of ecological restoration has not been given the
consideration it deserves in our efforts to restore coral reefs. In terrestrial
environments, where restoration of an area to its natural state is desired, the
original ecology is the blueprint for the effort. Water flows, elevations,
native plants and animals and their requirements for life and reproduction are
all carefully considered. Restoration
efforts for coral reefs, however, have been mostly concerned with the
identification and elimination of negative factors, physical repair when
possible and feasible, and management of what remains of the reefs. And this is
very understandable in light of the difficulty of studying coral reef
environments, the vast expanses of oceanic areas affected, the difficulties
performing and interpreting research within the intensely complex and variable
coral reef ecology, and the multifarious international policies and politics of
the many countries with coral reef interests. It is time though, with the science that has be established to this
point, to spend greater effort on ecological restoration
On our Florida reefs, ecological restoration would include reestablishment and continued
maintenance of small, reproductively effective populations of the keystone
herbivore, the long-spined sea urchin, Diadema
antillarum, general repair of storm damage when possible, outplanting of
farmed coral fragments and juveniles where appropriate, and general ecological
care of specific reef sites. Although it is not possible to directly restore
the ecology of all the coral reefs in South Florida,
it is possible, with enough human effort, to help repair the ecology of small specific
reef sites (algae and sediment removal from coral heads, physical coral disease
removal, monitoring coral health, etc.) at various points all along the reef
tract. These ecologically maintained reefs will have a positive effect on
surrounding reef areas through increased coral reef health at these sites,
which will result in increased coral and Diadema spawning and increased survival of juvenile corals and Diadema at that location and possibly in surrounding areas. Reefs
in other areas of the world would have different ecological problems and
require different research and restoration procedures.
Habitat restoration is also a part of ecological restoration
in that it can improve the health of a coral reef by providing the physical
structure that certain organisms (corals, various other invertebrates, and fish)
require for successful settlement and growth. Physical habitat structures
designed to induce settlement and early juvenile survival of various reef
organisms, corals, urchins, fish, etc. should be developed and deployed to
assist recruitment to coral reef areas. This is an important area for
continuing and future research efforts.
So I feel the concept of coal reef restoration has validity
and should not be dismissed as impossible. We donât know what we can do until
we try, and try again, and then try again, and keep on trying as long as we
can. After all, the foundation of success is intelligent failureâ¦..
----- Original Message ----
From: Don Baker
To: coral-list at coral.aoml.noaa.gov
Sent: Thursday, May 1, 2008 6:00:08 PM
Subject: [Coral-List] Coral Reef Restoration?
Though this subject may have been discussed in the past herein this List, I think its important to clarify as to what "Coral Reef Restoration" actually means.
We read a plethora of programs, proposals, projects, and perhaps 'environmental pipe dreams' about 'undertaking coral reef restoration.' But what are the successes, the real accomplishments out in the real world and not within someone's book, magazine article, or grant write up?
Can we actually restore a reef? How many square miles can we restore?
Will coral farming seedling rejects add to a restoration area? Do Reef Balls help at all in the big picture or only as highly localized cosmetic, band-aid ecosystem touch ups.
Where is the real and present data that substantiates any successful coral reef restoration endeavor? I am not referring to MPA establishment. I am referring to actual coral transplants, re-plants, etc.
Can we actually restore a coral reef? Or will 'mother nature' take care of its own and restore if human affections are eliminated?
In short, I think we need to be very careful whenever we 'use' the concept of coral reef restoration in any of our write ups, project drafts, and grant proposals.
Alternate Email: donbjr95 at hotmail.com
"Dedication and motivated direction in achieving specific goals related to the care and protection of living things is not necessarily a guaranteed formula for success. Success is, more often than not, a direct result of a personâs passion in addition to the above formula." [Don Baker, Marine Conservationist/Activist, 1998]
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Alternate Email: donbjr95 at hotmail.com
"Dedication and motivated direction in achieving specific goals related to the care and protection of living things is not necessarily a guaranteed formula for success. Success is, more often than not, a direct result of a persons passion in addition to the above formula." [Don Baker, Marine Conservationist/Activist, 1998]
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