Coral Reef Restoration Facts
Did you know?
- Utila is the smallest and westernmost of the three major Bay Islands, situated off the Caribbean coast of Honduras. It is also the closest to the mainland, located approximately 32 km NNW of the mainland. Its total area is 49.3 km².
- The reefs of Honduras make up part of the Mesoamerican Reef (MAR) which supports the local economies and livelihoods of almost two million people.
- Damage to corals vary with growth form, branching forms being the most vulnerable to breakage (Hawkins & Roberts 1992).
- There are both direct and indirect threats to our reefs. Direct impacts by divers include accidental kicking, trampling, holding, kneeling, standing and resuspension of sediment, as well as the introduction of damaging substances (i.e. sunscreen / insect repellent). Indirect threats include boating pressure and provision of facilities for tourists.
- Together with climate change, the increase in human-derived pressures, has resulted in coral reef ecosystems losing their resilience and ability to recover naturally without active human intervention (Rinkevich 2015).
- Coral cover in the Caribbean has declined from approximately 55% in 1977 to approximately 10% at present. Coral growth rates are also decreasing, with coral calcification diminishing by 15-30% since the 90’s (Rinkevich 2015).
- Acropora species are some of the most important reef building species and their populations have shown a dramatic decline of up to 95% in some areas of the Caribbean.
- Currently both< and< are listed under “Threatened” in the Endangered Species Act (in 2006) and “Critically Endangered” on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species (in 2008) (Young et al 2012).
- A study by Schopmeyer (2017) indicated that the coral gardening methods used to propagate and restore< populations are very effective, that no excess damage is caused to donor colonies, and that once out planted, staghorn corals behave just as wild colonies (Schopmeyer et al 2017).
- During the International Coral Reef Symposium in Australia it was shown that transplantation is generally successful from a biological point of view, with survival rates in most cases ranging between 50% and 100%, when corals are transplanted into similar habitats to those from which they were collected.
About our methodology:
- The coral restoration model denominated ‘gardening the coral reef concept’ (derived from silviculture) is based on a two-step protocol. First rearing coral “seedlings” (e.g. nubbins, coral fragments and small coral colonies) in specifically designed nurseries, and secondly out- planting onto denuded or damaged reef areas (Rinkevich 2008).
- A review of<Acropora< restoration projects in the Caribbean found that the method of coral gardening is regarded as one of the most effective methods of restoration (Young et al 2012).
Research has shown that the agriculture of coral recruits in a protected nursery phase ensures better survivorship and growth to a size suitable for active transplantation onto the reef (Rinkevich 2015).