Existing reef restoration methods applied at small to local scale
Coral fragments (or sexually-produced coral young) are propagated in a nursery to protect them from damaging conditions while they are small and vulnerable. Once they reach a minimum size, they are replanted on damaged reefs.
This method is used to propagate corals for both commercial purposes and reef restoration. Nurseries are usually located in sheltered environments, with favourable conditions, where the corals can be closely monitored.
Coral species favoured for this approach have: high growth rates, tolerance for a range of conditions, rapid healing capacity and natural tendency for fragmentation in their life cycle. Increasingly, coral nurseries are developed to be self-sustaining after the first wild collection by continual fragmentation of initial stock. If this method was to be used at a large scale, steps would be required to ensure genetic diversity was maintained through a continual replenishment program of source stock.
Photo courtesy of Whitney Hoot, Government of Guam.