[Coral-List] [EXTERNAL] Re: ICRS 2021 meeting session: Can Coral Reef Restoration Increase Coastal Protection?

Storlazzi, Curt D cstorlazzi at usgs.gov
Thu Sep 10 02:27:35 UTC 2020


I whole-heartedly agree! Don't put canaries back in the coal mine. Thus one needs to determine what caused the coral decline in the first place, then that(those) stressor(s) need to be mitigated before any restoration likely has a good chance of success, unless coral breeding/engineering has made the corals more resilient to those stressors.

My thought regarding coral reefs and coastal protection is four-fold:

First, healthy coral reefs with high coral cover and rugosity (as would occur due to restoration) result in less wave-driven runup and thus coastal flooding. See Quataert et al. (2015).

Second, green coastal defense infrastructure is much less expensive than gray coastal defense infrastructure. See Ferrario et al. (2014).

Third, green coastal defense infrastructure such as coral reefs, oyster reefs, marshes, mangroves, etc can theoretically grow (not degrade as gray infrastructure such as seawalls and breakwaters do) through time if in a good environment, as discussed above, and generally are a net contributor to ecosystem health (as compared to gray infrastructure, which generally is not). See Beck et al. (2018).

Fourth, the US spends on the order of a few $million/year on coral reef restoration, versus on the order of half a $billion/year on pre-disaster coastal mitigation funding and 10s of $billions on post-disaster coastal restoration funding after hurricanes, such as Irma and Maria in 2017. If just a few percent of those pre-disaster mitigation funds or post-disaster restoration funds could be used for coral reef restoration, that would be a huge influx of funding for restoration. And that's just public dollars - what about private sector insurers? If a hotel restores its reef just offshore (reducing its flooding risk), might it get a lower insurance rate?

Thus if you can show coral reefs provide coastal protection at a management-relevant scale and in rigorously enough manner (e.g., Storlazzi et al., 2019), you might be able to create new funding opportunities for coral reef restoration to help increase ecological function, that, in turn, helps provide all of the other ecosystem services that average folks (non-coral lovers such as ourselves) crave, such as fisheries, tourism, recreation, etc.

Again, it does hinge, as you note, on successfully outplanting corals (maybe genetically engineered or selectively bred to be more resilient). But it seems we can't scale up those engineering, breeding, and outplanting efforts (and likely mitigation of local stressors such as land-based pollution) without a lot more funds that it appears are currently available....so let's think about how we might create such funding opportunities.

But that's just one thought....

Stay safe and sane in these crazy times, amigo.



Beck, MW, et al., 2018. "The global flood protection savings provided by coral reefs." Nature Communications 9:2186.
Ferrario, F, et al., 2014. ”The effectiveness of coral reefs for coastal hazard risk reduction and adaptation.” Nature Communications, 5:3794.
Quataert, E, et al., 2015. “The influence of coral reefs and climate change on wave-driven flooding of tropical coastlines.” Geophysical Research Letters, 42: 6407-6415.
Storlazzi, CD, et al. 2019. "Rigorously valuing the role of U.S. coral reefs in coastal hazard risk reduction." USGS Open-File Report 2019-1027, doi.org/10.3133/ofr20191027.

Curt D. Storlazzi, Ph.D.

U.S. Geological Survey
Pacific Coastal and Marine Science Center
2885 Mission Street
Santa Cruz, CA 95060
(831) 295-3429 cell during COVID-19

From: Douglas Fenner <douglasfennertassi at gmail.com>
Sent: Wednesday, September 9, 2020 3:03 PM
To: Storlazzi, Curt D <cstorlazzi at usgs.gov>
Cc: coral-list at coral.aoml.noaa.gov <coral-list at coral.aoml.noaa.gov>
Subject: [EXTERNAL] Re: [Coral-List] ICRS 2021 meeting session: Can Coral Reef Restoration Increase Coastal Protection?

 This email has been received from outside of DOI - Use caution before clicking on links, opening attachments, or responding.

  Wouldn't an important aspect be how long improvements in the amount of live coral last??  If people plant out 10,000 corals and feel good about themselves, but only 100 survive more than 5 years, was it worth it??  This is a question which it seems to me the huge number of enthusiastic coral restoration people are dodging, and I think it is a critical one.  Bad water quality and mass coral bleaching can undo all these good efforts, and WILL, if we don't address them, and so far we're failing miserably at that.  Isn't this fad just rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic???    Cheers,  Doug

On Tue, Sep 8, 2020 at 7:05 AM Storlazzi, Curt D via Coral-List <coral-list at coral.aoml.noaa.gov<mailto:coral-list at coral.aoml.noaa.gov>> wrote:
Dear colleagues:

We would like to draw your attention to a meeting session to address:

Can Coral Reef Restoration Increase Coastal Protection?

at the 2021 International Coral Reef Symposium, which is being held 18-23 July 2021 in Bremen, Germany.

If your work is relevant to this session please submit an abstract to ICRS20-39 under Theme 13: Interventions and Restoration via the following link:


Session Description:

Coastal flooding and erosion affects thousands of vulnerable coastal communities and has resulted in hundreds of billions of dollars in damage during the past decade alone; these impacts are predicted to worsen with continued population growth and climate change. There is growing recognition of the role of coral reefs in coastal hazard risk reduction as they dissipate wave energy and produce and trap sediment on adjacent beaches and thus reduce flooding and erosion. Given these benefits, there is the potential to apply coral reef restoration not only to meet ecological recovery goals such as coral species and reef communities, but also to reduce coastal hazards and build coastal resilience to current and future storms. To meet and support these joint objectives, there must be rigorous, quantitative assessments of restoration performance, particularly for risk reduction benefits. This mini-symposium focuses on advancements in understanding the role of coral reefs in hazard risk reduct
 ion, including but not limited to (i) quantifying the roles of coral spacing, morphology, and attachment strength in boundary-layer hydrodynamics; (ii) relating coral species morphology, structural complexity, or reef location to change in hydrodynamic roughness or induction of wave breaking for different environmental forcing conditions; (iii) design and siting of reef restoration to best reduce coastal flooding for different reef configurations; (iv) comparison of natural green and hybrid gray-green infrastructure in relation to ecological and hydrodynamic change; (v) incorporation of ecological connectivity into reef restoration site selection; and (vi) cost-benefit analyses of restoration for coastal hazard risk reduction. Summaries of current local or regional-scale studies, including modeling exercises are encouraged, especially if they evaluate social and economic impacts of different restoration options.

Please visit the conference website for more information:


Abstract submission closes 15 September 2020

For further information and all updates, please visit:


If you know of anyone who might be interested who might not receive this notice, please feel free to pass it along.  We are very excited about this session and look forward to your participation. If you have any questions, please feel free to contact us. We hope to see you in Bremen!


Curt Storlazzi - USGS Pacific Coastal and Marine Science Center
Shay Viehman - NOAA National Centers for Coastal Ocean Science
Mike Beck - UCSC Institute of Marine Sciences

Curt D. Storlazzi, Ph.D.

U.S. Geological Survey
Pacific Coastal and Marine Science Center
2885 Mission Street
Santa Cruz, CA 95060
(831) 295-3429 cell during COVID-19

Coral-List mailing list
Coral-List at coral.aoml.noaa.gov<mailto:Coral-List at coral.aoml.noaa.gov>

More information about the Coral-List mailing list