Coral Heroes: The Coral Restoration Consortium

Throughout the Coral Reef Conservation Program’s 20th Anniversary, we are highlighting Coral Heroes — individuals and organizations who have worked with the program and are making a real difference in coral reef conservation.

A diver cleans algae and other nuisance species from coral “tree” structures
A diver cleans algae and other nuisance species from coral “tree” structures in a Coral Restoration Foundation nursery. (A. Neufeld/Coral Restoration Foundation)

Addressing coral stressors, such as unsustainable fishing practices, land-based sources of pollution, and climate change, is critical to conserving coral reef ecosystems. Yet corals are succumbing faster than they can recover. The coral community is turning to active restoration to provide reefs with time to recuperate and become more resilient.

The Coral Restoration Consortium is an international community of practice that includes scientists, managers, coral restoration practitioners, and educators. The consortium’s mission is to support collaboration and technology transfer, and to facilitate scientific and practical innovation. The Coral Restoration Consortium aims to increase the scale and efficiency of coral restoration through activities that include scaling up in-water, land-based, and larval breeding; the generation of restoration monitoring guidelines and common-access data platforms; and the coordination and fostering of genetics science into adaptive restoration.

“It's all hands on deck right now for tropical corals. If climate change can be tempered and eventually reversed, while local environmental conditions are optimized, corals and the reefs they build may be able to persist through the end of the century in certain areas with the help of human-assisted restoration,” notes Tali Vardi, coral science lead with NOAA’s Office of Science and Technology and executive coordinator of the Coral Restoration Consortium. “Over the past three years, the Coral Restoration Consortium has developed from a few Caribbean experts to a global body of restoration scientists, managers, and practitioners — sharing successes and failures, developing best management guidelines, and collaborating on cutting-edge science.”

Expert Panel takes questions from experts at conference
Expert Panel takes questions from Tom Moore at Reef Futures 2018. (Coral Restoration Consortium)

In 2018, the Coral Restoration Consortium took a new step toward its mission by hosting Reef Futures, the first truly international conference on coral reef restoration.

“As the community of coral restoration practitioners continued to grow exponentially, it became clear we needed a dedicated venue where advancing the science and practice of restoration could take center stage,” says Tom Moore, NOAA coral reef restoration team lead and co-chair of the Coral Restoration Consortium. “This was the genesis of the first ever Reef Futures conference, where over 550 participants came together for a week of sharing the latest science and advancements in the field of restoration.” Topics discussed included spawning, monitoring, community engagement, and stony coral tissue loss disease.

We look forward to continuing our partnership with the Coral Restoration Consortium on activities, including the next Reef Futures conference in May 2021.

Follow the celebration on our Facebook and Twitter pages and the National Ocean Service Instagram page all year using the hashtag #NOAACoral20th.

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