Population enhancement is one restoration approach that specifically addresses degraded coral populations. This includes planting nursery grown corals back onto reefs, maintaining genetic diversity, making sure habitat is suitable for natural recruitment, and building and maintaining coral resilience to threats including climate change, unsustainable fishing practices, and land-based sources of pollution. Effective restoration drives the recovery of coral reef ecosystems.
Restoring viable coral populations requires a multi-pronged approach with interventions that are direct and informed by the local ecology. Local stressors that need to be addressed include the threats mentioned above, the loss of herbivorous species like sea urchins and grazing fish, coral disease, invasive species, and impacts from repeated vessel anchoring, and vessel groundings.
Active and targeted restoration through population enhancement methods and other interventions will mitigate for declining coral populations and facilitate adaptation of coral reef ecosystems to evolving environmental conditions.
What We Are Doing
The NOAA Coral Reef Conservation Program is working with partners on various restoration activities. Improving the quality of habitats where coral settle and create communities, preventing avoidable losses of coral and their habitat, enhancing the resilience of coral populations, improving coral health and survival, and sharing best practices will assist coral reef ecosystems with being viable and functioning.
The NOAA Coral Reef Conservation Program was established in 2000 by the Coral Reef Conservation Act. Headquartered in Silver Spring, Maryland, the program is part of NOAA's Office for Coastal Management.