Marine restoration and MERCES Key Habitats/Species: Approaches, timescales, bottlenecks, and up-scaling

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Chris Smith

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In the context of legislated marine restoration goals and new and on-going initiatives, and as part of the background preparation work in a wide variety of MERCES project restoration actions, a detailed review of restoration efforts was undertaken on targeted European habitat/species. Part of this review has focussed on principal techniques and methods used in restoration actions, innovative approaches, major barriers/deal breakers, solutions to up-scaling to the level of degradation, and relevant timescales to restoration. The targeted habitat/species included kelp forests in Norway, Cystoseira forests in Spain, seagrass meadows in Norway, the Baltic (both Zostera marina) and the Mediterranean (Posidonia oceanica), Pinna nobilis in Croatia, coralligenous habitats in Spain, red corals in Italy, sponges in Italy, deep sea corals in the Azores and deep-sea seamounts in Italy. Techniques ranged from regeneration to transplantation and facilitation (e.g. by introducing mussels with seagrass) using different life-history stages or methods. Restoration is still in its infancy for some species and new protocols are being developed for deep waters. Time scales to restoration vary widely between ecosystems from months to years (kelp, sponges, some seagrasses), to decades (some seagrasses and corals), to multi-decades or centuries (deep-sea corals). Deal-breakers commonly depend on target species characteristics, the methods and techniques used, site parameters, but also the continued absence of threats. Up-scaling presents a number of challenges but will need an approach using a family of restorative activities (e.g. threat removal, unassisted regeneration, remediation, good management) combined with technological innovations, science-industry solutions, and citizen science/volunteering support.

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Audio/Video, Conference Presentation, SER2019

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Society for Ecological Restoration