Before implementing a coral restoration project, it is critical that serious consideration, planning, and partnerships be made to ensure the highest chances of success. Though restoration may be seen by some as a ‘quick fix’ to reef degradation, economic costs and ecological complexity can still make coral reef restoration a risky endeavor. This phase can help restoration practitioners determine how to achieve long-term sustainable funding and adapt to natural disturbances like bleaching events or storms that can set back activities.
It’s critical to reduce or manage as many existing local threats that affect coral reefs in your area before restoration is implemented. Otherwise, restoration may have a higher risk of failure and may waste valuable resources. Working with existing management agencies or scientists in the area who can assess the health and resilience of local reef sites can help with this process. It is also helpful to plan for natural disturbances (e.g., bleaching events, predation, and storms) so you can be ready and reduce negative impacts on your restoration program.
The Reef Resilience Network Coral Reef Restoration Online Course provides a guided process for planning and designing a coral reef restoration program, from setting objectives through determining on-the-ground restoration actions (see Lesson 1: Introduction to Restoration and Project Planning).
The following sections describe, more generally, key considerations to think about before implementing a coral restoration project.