Habitat Restoration

Habitat Restoration

Habitat Restoration

Habitat restoration of coral reef systems is a hot topic these days, with coral nurseries and ‘Coral Gardeners’ the latest popular term. It evokes a very romantic picture of divers as gardeners, going about their business tending the baby corals and nurturing them to adulthood. While this may be in part true, there is another side to the story. That is of regionwide coral mortality, most likely (if still much debated) caused by decreasing water quality, whether it be through regional eutrophication, local pollution, or unmanageable climatic variables. For these reasons, we do not offer ‘Gardening’ solutions to habitat restoration, but rather offer mitigation solutions that rely on addressing, where possible, the root issues that may have led to a degraded ecosystem. This may include, but not be limited to: identification of priority areas that should be strictly protected as seeding grounds; assessment of potential local point pollution sources; establishment of artificial reef structures (lobster casitas, ship wrecks etc); translocation of keystone species such as Diadema antillarum; and the use of ‘opportunistic fragmentation’ coral restoration methods. This latter method uses coral fragments obtained from areas threatened by (for example) coastal development, to attempt restoration efforts of least threatened degraded areas. The whole process is holistic, and usually involves a combination of the above to stand the best chance of achieve lasting results.

 

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