Monitoring & Evaluation
In addition to monitoring techniques that assess transplanted coral fragments, projects with added substrates benefit from economic and cost analyses that evaluate return on investment. These include costs such as building structures, putting structures in place, and maintaining structures. Returns include ecological restoration and ecosystem service targets. ref Monitoring protocols should align closely with the objectives of the project. For example, projects centered on restoring reefs for coastal protection should monitor wave energy on shore, erosion rates, and coastal impacts/damages due to storms.
The World Bank 2016 Report provides guidance on approaches to estimate the coastal protection benefits provided by natural and artificial coral reefs. These approaches are adapted engineering projects and can be undertaken for other habitats (like mangroves) or any kind of infrastructure. There are 5 main steps that will estimate coastal protection benefits:
- Estimate offshore hydrodynamics
- Estimate nearshore hydrodynamics
- Estimate effects of coastal structures (habitat) on hydrodynamics
- Estimate flooding or erosion
- Assess expected and averted damage (value coastal protection services)
Page 14 of the World Bank Report provides in-depth explanations for each of these steps.
Coral restoration projects with substrate structures can also greatly benefit from decades of research on oyster reef restoration. Oyster reef restoration projects also use structures to enhance biological processes (such as fisheries production) and ecosystem services (such as coastal protection). Thus, this is a direct analog to newer coral reef structural restoration. Several research articles and manuals provide information on monitoring oyster reefs:
- Oyster Habitat Restoration Monitoring and Assessment Handbook
- Effective Monitoring to Evaluate Ecological Restoration in the Gulf of Mexico (Book); Oyster Reef Restoration Monitoring (Chapter)
- Oyster Monitoring, NOAA’s Monitoring of Coastal Habitats