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

David Obura dobura at cordioea.net
Mon Sep 14 05:42:58 UTC 2020

Dear all,

this is certainly an important topic, and my feeling is the value of the coral-list and online discussions like this is not to hammer away to convince everyone, but to raise issues that then need to be resolved by work and thought over time.

Sarah your post was excellent and I for one certainly encourage all restoration processes to build on existing best practice and the Society for Restoration Ecology is certainly the ‘go to’ professional society for that. I also agree fully that we need both conservation/pressure reduction AND restoration together - and the broader discussion around the Global Biodiversity Framework (so the next set of 10-year targets and 30-year goals under the Convention on Biological Diversity, replacing the Aichi Targets) makes this crystal clear for just about every major ecosystem. Not only do we have to slow/halt the decline of biodiversity, we can only achieve net gain (or ‘bend the curve’) through active regeneration of what was lost (to the extent possible). Of course our ability to do that at meaningful scale in coral reefs is far in the future, but we’ll never attain it if we don’t invest heavily in R&D now.

At the present though, I think there is a critical issue that goes beyond your statement Sarah "This is not an issue of coral reef restoration taking away slices of the funding pie for conservation”. What IS an issue is expensive and experimental (and often poorly planned, and with no long term sustainability plan) restoration that puts money into researchers' and consultants’ pockets, and takes it away from community, social and development alternatives that benefit people - these likely may do little for the reefs, but in many cases the ‘restored’ reefs are not going to survive or provide any benefits to people anyway, so the result is a double negative. This IS a massive ethical problem that we have to address head-on, and its perhaps biggest in precisely the contexts where social impacts are already not really being addressed, such as in major projects where the simplest compensation actions are to uproot and replant corals somewhere else, or for major aid programmes that get star-struck by the promises of restoration (coastal protection, carbon, food security, you name it) from their own scientists/experts, but are really funding trials, rather than sustainable benefits to beneficiary countries.

Have a great week all,


David Obura || CORDIO East Africa, #9 Kibaki Flats, Kenyatta Beach, Bamburi Beach, P.O.BOX 10135 Mombasa 80101, Kenya
Email: dobura at cordioea.net  --  davidobura at gmail.com
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On 13 Sep 2020, 19:42 +0300, coral-list at coral.aoml.noaa.gov, wrote:
> On Friday, September 11, 2020, 12:09:58 PM HST, Sarah Frias-Torres via
> > Coral-List <coral-list at coral.aoml.noaa.gov> wrote:
> >
> > Doug
> > The science of Ecological Restoration is well established and follows a
> > set of science-based principles. I invite you to visit the Society for
> > Restoration Ecology web site, which has links to standards and protocols in
> > their "Resource Center" tab
> > https://www.ser.org/
> >
> > Specifically, for coral reef restoration, what you call "planting out
> > corals" is just one step in coral gardening, which is one of many
> > techniques available in this scientific discipline of restoration ecology.
> >
> > The aim of coral reef restoration is to restore ecological function.
> > Science-based projects take into account all factors, from local to global
> > stressors. Unfortunately, there are many "copy-cats", people that start
> > 'planting corals" without going through all the steps of a science-based
> > restoration project. Whether it is blind enthusiasm attached to ignorance
> > or real malice, it needs evaluation in a case by case basis.
> >
> > Also, to clarify a comment about funding (from a post related to this
> > one), in my experience, none of the funding I have secured to implement
> > coral reef restoration projects was taken away from the funding pie of
> > conservation and climate change mitigation. This is not an issue of coral
> > reef restoration taking away slices of the funding pie for conservation. We
> > are not eating the pie and leaving our conservation colleagues hungry. We
> > are making the funding pie bigger.
> >
> > None of the coral reef restoration scientists I work with ignores local
> > and global stressors to coral reefs. None of us thinks that restoration is
> > the magic pill that will save coral reefs. Restoration is one more tool in
> > the toolbox of saving coral reefs.
> >
> > As I keep repeating over and over, to save coral reefs, conservation,
> > restoration, and targeting the climate crisis must all work together.
> >
> > Finally, on the Titanic analogy, there was a similar comment ("rearranging
> > the deck chairs ") shared at the open forum during ICRS 2016 in Hawaii,
> > saying that first, we must stop burning fossil fuels, and stop climate
> > change, before we even consider coral reef restoration. My answer to this
> > comment was that if we take this approach, there will be no point to do
> > restoration by then.
> >
> > The futile tug of war between pro-conservation and pro-restoration coral
> > reefs scientists is nicely explained in "Coral Whisperers" by Irus
> > Braverman. I strongly recommend reading this book to you and folks in
> > Coral-list.
> >
> > This is not a conservation vs. restoration issue.
> > It's not game over.
> > It's game on.
> > We must fight the coral reef crisis together, not against each other.
> >
> >
> > <><...<><...<><...
> >
> > Sarah Frias-Torres, Ph.D.
> > Twitter: @GrouperDoc
> > Science Blog: https://grouperluna.com/
> > Art Blog: https://oceanbestiary.com/
> >

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