The goal of enhancing coral populations or the structural framework of reefs is to help recover the natural ecological functioning of reef ecosystems. Ultimately, restoration projects should seek the long-term recovery of habitats because these habitats have become self-sustaining. This means that natural ecosystem processes, such as recruitment of reef organisms and reef accretion, naturally occur and promote the continuation of healthy coral reef populations and ecosystem states. The coral restoration techniques described in this module, including enhancing coral populations (through gardening in nurseries and larval propagation) and reef framework through artificial structures, are all examples of restoration activities that seek to promote ecological functioning.
In some cases, other restoration activities or innovations can be used or may be required in addition to the most common methods (population enhancement or artificial structures). This section describes methods used to control macroalgae and the restoration of other coastal habitats, such as mangroves.