Coral reefs around the world are declining but Australia’s marine researchers are leading the way in a bid to help restore the Great Barrier Reef.

What they discover, could be a lifeline to reefs around the world.

Australian Institute of Marine Science researcher Dr Line Bay, a lead scientist for the feasibility stage of Australia’s Reef Restoration and Adaptation Program, and speaker at The 5th International Marine Conservation Congress in Kuching, says there is still time to support coral reefs.

Dr Bay talks about novel approaches to the conservation and management of coral reefs under climate change.

“Coral reefs are at a cross roads in terms of their ecological health and how they are managed,” Dr Bay said.

“Declines in coral cover and health, in particular from mass bleaching, have spurred discussion around the role of restoration in the management of reefs in a warming world.

“We are moving to more novel approaches, many of which have never been implemented in wild ecosystems on such a large scale.

“These include assisting the ecological or environmental attributes of reefs, and the replenishment of coral cover with heat tolerant corals.”
Dr Bay said the Reef Restoration and Adaptation Program was examining a variety of innovative measures, to support the recovery of reef habitat and enhance the climate adaptation of reef corals.

“While an exploration of reef restoration techniques must not detract from a focus on addressing the root causes of reef declines, most importantly climate change, it is a conversation we must have,” she said.

“A rigorous, systematic and objective analysis of both existing and novel restoration approaches will ensure that coral reef managers and decision makers have the best tools available to face the challenging task of conserving and managing our coral reefs into the future.

“Global climate mitigation efforts must go hand-in-hand with actions to preserve and restore resilience of our most vulnerable ecosystems.”
The $6 million Reef Restoration and Adaptation Project feasibility phase is funded through the Australian Institute of Marine Science, under the Australian Government’s $60 million reef investment package.

Australian Institute of Marine Science
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