[Coral-List] Coral reef restoration

Elisa Bayraktarov elisa.bayraktarov at gmx.de
Wed Feb 8 20:44:30 EST 2017

{resending this - my previous email was apparently not received}

Dear John, dear Coral-List,

Very pleased to see that our open access publication on 'The cost and
feasibility of marine coastal restoration' [1] is drawing your attention and
is contributing to the discussion on reef restoration. I would like to say a
few words on the reasoning behind looking into cost and feasibility
information and also clarify that we are actually being quite critical when
highlighting that marine restoration - and coral reef restoration in no
exception here - is still yet to mature before it can be applied on
ecologically, socially and economically meaningful scales.

Over the last few years, Australia has been implementing policies for
biodiversity offsetting - a process where environmental impacts of
development projects are compensated through conservation activities that
yield a gain which is at least equivalent to the impact. Offsets are/will be
carried out not only for  the terrestrial but also for the marine
environment. Where impacts cannot be avoided, restoration is a key mechanism
for replacing the habitat which has been degraded at one site through
restoration at another offset site. 
Interestingly, in 2014 there was no information on how expensive restoration
actions can be for coastal and marine ecosystems. It was impossible to
estimate the real cost of marine offsets - and it still is to some degree, I
am afraid to say. Also, it was unknown what the likelihood of success or
feasibility of such projects are. If you wanted to prioritize which
conservation interventions to choose for a certain scenario, a very simple
thing you could do is to calculate the cost-effectiveness of an action and
that being the benefit times the probability of success divided by the cost.
This was the major rationale why we looked into the marine restoration
literature of the last 40 years to extract information on cost as well as
some indicator for success from different restoration actions. We realized
that even if these two variables may sound very simple and straightforward,
the reality was completely different. For instance, restoration studies did
not report on cost in a consistent and comprehensive way; often important
cost elements have been omitted from calculation (e.g. planning, permitting,
purchasing, land acquisition, construction, financing, maintenance,
monitoring, and equipment repair/replacement - just to mention a few) making
it impossible to calculate the total cost for a restoration project if you
would start from scratch and don't include volunteer work hours. Success is
a different story: success should be an indicator that reports on how close
was the restoration project to actually reaching the restoration goal and
objectives. If we are talking about ecological restoration being the goal,
success should be measured as how much of the previous ecosystem function
and its resilience against stresses and environmental changes could be
re-gained by the ecosystem after restoration efforts. Instead, most
restoration studies reported on survivorship of restored organisms as an
item-based success indicator which we know is not adequate to represent the
overall restoration project feasibility. I hope that with the newly released
International Standards for the Practice of Ecological Restoration by the
Society for Ecological Restoration [2], practitioners and scientists alike
will improve the way they evaluate and report on the success (and failure!)
of their restoration projects. We are yet to develop guidelines on how to
report on restoration cost in a standardized way.

On another note, I should probably mention that since our literature
research in November 2014 and the paper being accepted in October 2015,
there have been significant advances in the field of coral reef restoration
which we could not account for. For example, Montoya-Maya et al 2016 [3] are
showing results from a highly successful restoration project in the
Seychelles where they are not only aiming at coral reef restoration at a
larger scale (0.5 ha) but were also envisioning to establish a
self-sustaining and resilient reef that doesn't require maintenance. This is
one of the few studies that also measured the benefits from the restoration
site e.g. additional coral recruitment. Regarding climate change, Buki
Rinkevich 2015 [4] discusses some ideas and approaches on how active coral
reef restoration could potentially become fit for climate change.

To sum this up, in our synthesis review we are rather critical in pointing
out the caveats and needs of marine coastal restoration. We share the open
access database behind our review [5] and welcome anyone interested in using
it, merging it with their expertise in marine restoration or even extending
it to also capture the highly successful studies which have emerged since
finishing our literature search in November 2014.

Many greetings from Down Under!


Here are the links to the literature mentioned above:

[1] http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1890/15-1077/abstract

[2] http://www.ser.org/news/321786/

[3] http://natureconservation.pensoft.net/articles.php?id=8604

[4] http://www.mdpi.com/2077-1312/3/1/111 

[5] http://datadryad.org/resource/doi:10.5061/dryad.rc0jn

-----Original Message-----
From: coral-list-bounces at coral.aoml.noaa.gov
[mailto:coral-list-bounces at coral.aoml.noaa.gov] On Behalf Of John Ware
Sent: Friday, 3 February 2017 4:11 AM
To: coral-list at coral.aoml.noaa.gov
Subject: [Coral-List] Coral reef restoration

Dear List,

Back in ~mid January, I sent out a request asking the list for references to
papers that provided an evaluation or critique of the process of reef
restoration, coral transplants, "population enhancement" 
(my personal favorite), etc.

Of the 68 papers in my file on this topic, only one is the least bit

Bayraktarov et al, Ecol Appl 26(4):1055-1074 (I believe this is open

Elisa et al. concentrate on financial aspects and note that few papers
describe costs in sufficient detail.  But they also mention that there is
almost certainly a publication bias towards success.

It seems to me that there should be somewhere a critical review mentioning,
for example, the relevance of scale in terms of global reef size and climate

But it does not appear that anyone has done the critical review that I
expected to find (in a respectable journal).

Did I miss something??
John Ware

     *                                                           *
     *                      John R. Ware, PhD                    *
     *                         President                         *
     *                      SeaServices, LLC                     *
     *                     302 N. Mule Deer Pt.                  *
     *                    Payson, AZ 85541, USA                  *
     *                       928 478-6358                        *
     *                      jware at erols.com                      *
     *                 http://www.seaservices.org                *
     *                                                           *
     *                Former Member of the Council:              *
     *            International Society for Reef Studies         *
     *                                          _                *
     *                                         |                 *
     *   ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~|~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ *
     *                                        _|_                *
     *                                       | _ |               *
     *        _______________________________|   |________       *
     *     |\/__       Untainted by Technology            \      *
     *     |/\____________________________________________/      *

If you are a coral-reef scientist and you are not a member of the
International Society for Reef Studies, then shame on you.
Become a member of the International Society for Reef Studies

Coral-List mailing list
Coral-List at coral.aoml.noaa.gov

More information about the Coral-List mailing list