Submitted by: Tropical Research and Conservation Centre (TRACC)
Restoring coral reefs to survive climate change
The Tropical Research and Conservation Centre (TRACC) is working towards coral reef solutions to repair damage caused by human abuse. Many reefs have been annihilated and converted into rubble fields with almost no biodiversity and productivity. Rubble fields may return naturally to biodiverse coral reefs but only over many decades. The proactive approach used by TRACC is like gardening and speeds up the natural recovery process. It grows over 10,000 coral colonies each year and restored over 0.5 ha of destroyed reef in 2015. The replanted reefs have more fish biomass, more diversity and greater numbers of individuals in a reproductive size. Commercially valuable fish species are breeding on the replanted reef, seeding eggs and larvae to fished reefs throughout the region. TRACC is working on a small scale but it is a drop in the ocean. The reefs of the Coral Triangle provide food and coastal protection for millions of people but they are at risk of total collapse with any increased stress. El Nino induced warm water bleaching or ocean acidification caused by global climate change will change reefs beyond recognition. TRACC is therefore working on a global problem by developing local solutions which can be replicated worldwide. Corals are resilient and with enough time the genetic biodiversity contained within reefs will create corals better adapted to higher temperatures and increased acidity. To accelerate the process, the center will use selective breeding to multiply and create large areas of reef that are tolerant to both temperature and increased acidity. During the whole project, 200 to 300 ha of damaged reefs will be replanted with 250,000 to 2 million corals.