The Reef Restoration and Adaptation Program

The Reef Restoration and Adaptation Program (RRAP) brings together the best minds in science and technology from Australian Institute of Marine Science (AIMS), CSIRO, James Cook University, The University of Queensland, Queensland University of Technology, the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority, the Great Barrier Reef Foundation, as well as many other leading research universities and institutes.

The Reef Restoration and Adaptation Program aims to create a suite of innovative and targeted measures that can be used for large-scale reef restoration and adaptation, to help the Reef help itself.

Prevention: reduce exposure to, and impacts of, disturbance

Prevention measures could include reducing corals’ exposure to extreme temperature stress by making environmental adjustments that, for example, increase shade or cool the water. It could also include assisting coral populations to more rapidly build natural resilience to threats such as higher temperatures, through measures such as selective breeding.

Repair: enhancing recovery after disturbances

Measures to help corals repair after events such coral bleaching, cyclones or ship groundings aim to accelerate natural recovery. These could include modifying reef surfaces to promote growth, as well as  producing and distributing coral larvae on a large scale.

Smart solutions

These measures must:

Australia’s brightest researchers have already begun working on creative solutions, but there is no simple quick-fix for this complex issue.

RRAP researchers are assessing existing research and technology from around the world, to identify techniques that could be developed and rolled-out at the scale needed to help the Great Barrier Reef. Our expert team includes: reef ecologists, engineers, water and land management specialists, innovators and social scientists.

While the program is initially focused on developing technology and solutions to help the world’s largest reef, the solutions could also be applied to reefs around the world.

Industry and community consultation 

An essential part of the planning and feasibility assessment phase will be to understand not only the likely ecological benefits and costs of any possible intervention, but also the economic and social benefits and risks.

Extensive consultation with industry and the community is underway. This will inform decision-making and priorities for action if, when, and where it is decided action is needed.

Multi-phase program

There are three phases to the Reef Restoration and Adaptation Program:

In 2018, the Australian Government provided $6M for the concept feasibility phase. The outcome will inform the spending of a further $100M allocated for reef resilience and adaptation science from 2019.

During concept feasibility we aim to: 

  • Better understand forecast declines in the state of coral reefs as a result of global temperature increases, and the types and scales of possible interventions required to maintain high-value reef functions.
  • Identify and undertake preliminary design and costing of the research and development and subsequent implementation of possible interventions.
  • Understand ecological, economic and social risk and social acceptability.
  • Develop the required governance framework and global partnerships to deliver the required research and development programs.