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Coral reefs, mangroves and seagrasses are vital habitats for tropical coastal communities for they provide a variety of fisheries resources, tourism revenue and protection from storms. Unfortunately, many coastal habitats are being degraded by land-clearing, shorefront development, nutrient and industrial pollution, physical damage from boats, divers, and reef walkers, and other human and natural impacts. Where damage has occurred, restoration programs may be able to revive the benefits and services that these habitats once gave.

Depending on the habitat and its condition, restoration could mean many different things: the removal of unwanted organisms (e.g. too much algae); the enhancement of physical structures (e.g. increase coral cover by transplanting corals); or the improvement of resource biomass (e.g. increase the number of reef fishes, invertebrates). Though some restoration techniques have been successful such as raising corals and transplanting them in degraded areas, these operations have mostly been done on a small scale and their cost-effectiveness is debatable when larger areas require restoration (Clark 1996). Large-scale coral restoration costs are high. For example, 10% replacement of coral cover costs approximately US$58,000 per hectare plus ship time (cost calculated for a four person team of divers placing 500 coral fragments per day) (Alcock 1995).

Restoration efforts for mangroves and seagrasses are equally challenging although slightly easier for community members to initiate. However, since the science of restoration of corals, mangroves, and seagrasses is relatively new, there are still questions surrounding whether these efforts are truly successful. The rates of natural coral recovery and whether transplantation of corals and/or substrate will enhance natural recruitment and recovery are currently being studied. Therefore, the prevention of habitat loss should be the main goal for all coastal communities.
Coral restoration: Before. Luis Pena Channel Natural Reserve (E. A. H. Delgado)
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