Coral Restoration: Damaged Coral Reefs Worldwide Make ‘Full Recovery’ Within Four Years Following Coral Growth Efforts [Study]

Coral reef systems in different parts of the Earth’s oceans are facing both natural and anthropogenic threats, leading to their damage or destruction. One of these sites is Australia’s Great Barrier Reef, the world’s largest coral reef system. It comprises of thousands of individual reefs and is home to various marine species. However, for almost two decades, scientists have recorded several mass coral bleaching events in the Australian reef.

The case of the Great Barrier Reef is only of the many reef systems that fell victim to climate change and global warming. Despite the ecological decline, coral restoration efforts have continued in previous years. In a new study published earlier this week, an international team of researchers revealed damaged coral reefs around the globe make a “full recovery” in a span of four years following initiatives for coral growth.

Coral Reef Threats

Coral Restoration: Damaged Coral Reefs Worldwide Make 'Full Recovery' Within Four Years Following Coral Growth Efforts [Study]
(Photo : Photo by Francesco Ungaro on Unsplash)

Coral reefs not only serve as shelters for marine animals and plants but they also protect coastlines from storms and erosion. In addition, the reefs can also provide sustenance; with more than 500 million people depending on them for income, food, and protection, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) says. Without these natural barriers, coastal areas could easily be flooded by rising sea levels.

In terms of risks, human-induced activities such as overfishing, live coral collection, and coral mining pose a major threat to coral reefs, the NOAA National Ocean Service says. In this context, one of the most significant anthropogenic impacts to reefs is pollution; this can be caused by land-based runoff and pollutant emissions from the agricultural, sewage, and coastal development sectors. Shallow-water coral reefs are immediately affected by these activities.

On the other hand, natural threats such as those posed by the current climate crisis adds to the complex ecological disaster that reefs and marine creatures experience. According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the greatest threats to global coral reef ecosystems are “increased ocean temperatures and ocean chemistry.” This pertains to ocean warming and acidification, which can be detrimental to the reefs.

Also Read: One of the Most Vibrant Coral Reef Systems in the World Faces a Dangerous Threat

Coral Growth Full Recovery

Not all developments concerning damaged coral reefs are negative. In fact, a new research paper published in the journal Current Biology on Friday, March 8, shows coral restoration efforts can increase the coverage of reefs and bring back its ecosystem function. Based on the study, researchers find the full recovery of reef growth within four years due to active coral restoration initiatives combined with local recognition.

One such case of recovery is the Great Barrier Reef, as reported by the Australian Government in August 2023. Despite the incurred damage mentioned earlier, the world’s largest reef system is able to recover “from widespread disturbances,” as stated by the government agency Australian Institute of Marine Science (AIMS).

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