Coral Restoration Project
The concept of restoration is to restore the structure and the function of a degraded ecosystem, habitat or area. The goal of coral restoration is to help the coral reefs, the most diverse of all marine ecosystems, to return to a condition that is close to the condition prior to the disturbance.
To date, unfortunately, many natural and anthropogenic factors are stressing the coral reefs worldwide. It has been estimated that coral reefs, are in severe decline and the most reliable estimates suggest that worldwide 27% have already been lost, with another 16% at serious risk of loss. The final result is the lost of the coral cover, the framework that allow the co-existence of a countless number of species. In this context to restore this ecosystem must be now considered a priority.
The Republic of Maldives consists entirely of coral reefs that are significant on a global scale as well, being the 7th largest in terms of area covered, contributing up to 5% of the world’s reef area. However, the Maldives can not escape from this climate change-dramatic scenario and their reef are suffering more and more every day.
Coral bleaching is a significant factor contributing to this decline and the Maldives have been among the most affected areas in the world, with 60 to 100% coral mortality reported due to an unprecedented coral bleaching event in 1997-199. Unfortunately, an extreme bleaching event occurred in 2016 with similar intensity. The total damage it is still under investigation.
However, despite an increasing number of reports of stress affecting corals and other marine taxa worldwide, and further increases predicted as a consequence of climate change, there has been comparatively little research focused on the coral restoration concept, especially in Maldives. Given that this country is geographically very large and specious in terms of marine biodiversity, knowledge of “how to restore” the coral reefs in this region has considerable ecological importance.
The two-step “coral gardening” approach to active reef restoration is a promising alternative for accelerating reef recovery and building reef resilience. The first step entails generating a pool of farmed colonies in underwater nurseries until they reach a threshold transplantation size. The second step is the transplantation of the nursery-grown colonies onto denuded reef areas. Because this approach allows for the mariculture of naturally resilient coral genotypes that can be used to rehabilitate degraded reefs, the coral gardening concept is being considered as an adaptive tool against climate change impacts.
We believe that a well-supported restoration strategy, combining larger scale restoration efforts itself with conservation, education and scientific research as well as strongly involving partners and projects on-site, will give to coral reefs a chance for the future.
A project in collaboration with: