Rapid and economically viable coral reef restoration at ecologically relevant scales

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Tim Gordon, David J Smith, Noel Janetski, Alicia McArdle, Jos van Oostrum, Jamaluddin Jompa, Frank Mars

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In response to the increasing pressure on coral reefs and impacts this had on its regional workforce, Mars embarked on a research and development project spanning 10 years to develop a cost-effective low-tech solution to restore the vast coral rubble beds that characterize many Indo-Pacific reefs. The key outcome was the Mars Assisted Reef Restoration System (MARRS). Utilizing locally sourced materials, MARRS involves several steps grouped into local construction and deployment. These steps are completed by different groups of trained individuals from the local community. A dedicated team of reef builders install Reef Stars as a web-like structure rapidly covering an area over 1000 m2 in 3-5 days. Importantly each step of MARRS has been dissected and efficiencies made resulting in the very rapid deployment capability we report. Over 25,000 Reef Stars and 375,000 coral fragments have been deployed around the islands of Badi and Bontosua within the Spermonde Archipelago, Indonesia. Coral cover has increased from <10% to >60% in under 3 years and fish biomass has more than doubled. Within this presentation we will report our latest findings and we will show evidence of how the MARRS system kick-starts natural ecological processes of recruitment and succession. Finally we will describe our approach to scale-up achieved through our train-the-trainer program which has led to the technique being deployed across multiple sites in Indonesia as well as the MesoAmerican reef system, The Great Barrier Reef and the Maldives involving different partners from government agencies, NGOs and critical industries.

Resource Type:
Conference Presentation, SER2021

Pre-approved for CECs under SER's CERP program