Global change and direct anthropogenic impacts increasingly affect most marine habitats at planetary scale. In most cases, conservation and management are largely insufficient to maintain the health of marine habitats. Despite marine restoration is a relatively young scientific discipline, restoration interventions are increasingly considered key actions when changes of degraded ecosystems are beyond the potential of natural recovery. As a consequence, despite the evaluation of restoration results is still a complex task, success stories are becoming increasingly evident across marine habitats and geographical areas. In my talk, I will synthesize recent knowledge in marine habitat restoration showing the main outcomes from coordinated experiments to individuate determinants of restoration success, under the umbrella of international projects. Then, I will describe the challenges to support restoration upscaling, stressing the need for multidisciplinary, systemic approaches including the full involvement of industry and human society. I will also discuss the need for setting realistic restoration targets to empower the potential of marine ecosystems to recover their structures and functions, including the consideration of the services they provide that should be fully considered in the evaluations of a restoration intervention. Finally, I will discuss the importance of developing guidelines for integrating conservation planning and prioritization of sites for restoration within a Maritime Spatial Planning perspective to improve the resilience of conservation/restoration plans to cumulative human impacts and climate change.
Pre-approved for CECs under SER's CERP program