Coral reef restoration in Latin American

Coral restoration in Latin America is more efficient and effective thanks to being participatory and inclusive. This is demonstrated by this study of 12 projects in the region.

26 Latin-American coral reef restoration scientists and practitioners from 17 institutions in five countries have gathered to publish for the first time the results of restoration efforts in the Spanish-speaking Caribbean and Eastern Tropical Pacific. The scientific publication “Coral reef restoration efforts in Latin American countries and territories” has been published in PlosOne Journal and is led by Dr. Elisa Bayraktarov from the University of Queensland. It presents unpublished data from 12 coral reef restoration case studies from five Latin American countries, describes their motivations and techniques used, and provides estimates on total annual project cost per unit area of reef intervened, spatial extent as well as project duration.

This publication closes the knowledge gap between academia and practitioners and overcomes the language barrier by providing the first comprehensive review of ongoing coral reef restoration efforts in Latin America. It also reveals the diversity, challenges, and achievements of Spanish-speaking scientists and managers in the region. 

Most of those projects are being carried out by pioneering civil organizations, often in strong partnerships with universities, research centers, conservation management bodies and regulators, tourism operators, the private sector, associations, and local community groups. 

We want to share the diversity of objectives, techniques, tools used, and methods to measure success in Latin America to encourage others to carry out similar work.

Dr Phanor H Montoya-Maya, Corales de Paz´s Director and Founder

The publication was a goal set by regional attendees to Florida’s Reef Futures symposium in 2018, which brought together over 400 reef restoration experts, businesses, and civil organizations, and galvanized them to save coral reefs through restoration and to identify alternative solutions. 

Announcing the publication´s release, the Director and Founder of the Colombian-based organization Corales de Paz and co-author of the paper Dr. Phanor Montoya-Maya said, “We want to showcase the efforts of Spanish-speaking countries that depend on their local coral reefs to the global coral reef restoration community.” 

“We want to share the diversity of objectives, techniques, tools used, and methods to measure success in Latin America to encourage others to carry out similar work. Scientists and practitioners who work on coral reef restoration will benefit from the information provided on total annual project cost per unit area of reef intervened, spatial extent as well as the duration of the projects,” Montoya-Maya said. 

 

Outplanted Pavona corals-Credit Raising Coral
Outplanted Pavona corals – Credit Raising Coral

 

“The symposium highlighted that solutions and discoveries from long-term and ongoing coral reef restoration projects in Spanish-speaking countries in the Caribbean and Eastern Tropical Pacific were not well known internationally,” Gabriela Nava & Miguel Garcia said, co-authors of the manuscript and co-founders of Oceanus, A.C. in Mexico where they have carried out restoration actions for almost 10 years.

“Science-based tools for coral restoration have been fundamental for the development of interdisciplinary programs in Latin American coral reefs”, said Drs Jesus E. Arias-González and Camilo Cortés-Useche from Cinvestav-Mérida, and co-authors of the study.

Commenting on the nature of the projects, Dr. Anastazia Banaszak from the Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México, also a co-author of the study said, “While coral reef restoration has been portrayed as expensive and challenging with regards to spatial scale, duration, and success, the results of the projects presented here show that many of these barriers can be overcome. The key is to collaborate and communicate such that we all learn from our collective experiences for the benefit of coral reefs.”

I encourage scientists, practitioners, tourism operators, community groups and policy decision-makers to galvanize efforts and form strong connections to rebuild what we have lost and prevent any more decline in coral reefs

Dr. Elisa Bayraktarov from  the University of Queensland

“These pioneering endeavors were often possible by in-kind commitments of staff and volunteers as well as the involvement of the local community, tourism operators and research institutions, thus socio-economic and science aspects play a substantial role in coral reef restoration in the Caribbean and Eastern Tropical Pacific,” Dr. Elisa Bayraktarov from the University of Queensland and lead author said. 

 

Reef for All Fishermen Restoration Workshop
Involvement of local communities is paramount to project success – Credit Corales de Paz

 

“I encourage scientists, practitioners, tourism operators, community groups, and policy decision-makers to galvanize efforts and form strong connections to rebuild what we have lost and prevent any more decline in coral reefs ”, Bayraktarov said.

This project features the scientific contribution of the responsible tourism movement Wave of Change led by Iberostar Group, which represents unique and groundbreaking participation from the private sector, and more specifically the tourism industry, in restoration efforts in Latin America. Wave of Change has contributed to this publication with restoration work in the Dominican Republic and Mexico. 

All authors of the manuscript agreed that strong national plans for restoration in conjunction with national and international funding are needed to multiply the already existing activities made by Latin-American organizations to improve the health and status of coral reefs in the Caribbean and Eastern Tropical Pacific.

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Corales de Paz
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