restoration sign

Coral restoration in Florida and the US Virgin Islands. Photo © Meaghan Johnson/TNC

Coral reef stakeholders and managers may wish to consider restoration to assist the recovery of areas of coral reefs and associated habitats that have been damaged. Currently, coral reef restoration efforts generally focus on repairing reef habitats damaged by acute physical impacts, such as ship groundings, and a large body of knowledge relating to technical aspects of restoration has accumulated over the last two decades.

The imperative for restoration can sometimes be very strong due to social and political expectations of a ‘quick fix’ to reef damage. However, economic costs and ecological complexity can make restoration a risky endeavor. In particular, restoration is likely to be an expensive failure if the causes of degradation (chronic stressors such as pollution, for example) have not been effectively addressed.

Restoration actions can be divided into two main types:

  • Passive restoration — usually involves removing anthropogenic stressors that are impeding natural recovery. These actions will often be done as part of broader fisheries managementwatershed management, or local management intervention strategies.
  • Active restoration — usually involves more direct actions, such as re-attachment of dislodged biota, transplantation or physical manipulation of the substratum.

Coral nursery. Photo © Ken Nedimyer/SeaLife

The following pages provide an overview of key issues and resources relevant to active restoration, with a focus on:



Reef Restoration Concepts and Guidelines (pdf, 2.3M)

Reef Rehabilitation Manual (pdf, 5.2M)

NOAA Restoration

Coral Restoration Foundation

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Last updated April 21, 2016

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