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Oceanic coastal (or “blue”) ecosystems provide valuable services to humanity and the environment, but the global loss and deterioration of blue ecosystems requires ecological restoration. However, blue restoration is an emerging field and is still relatively experimental and small-scale. Identifying the key barriers to scaling blue restoration can help you target the problem and increase your chances of success. Here we describe the environmental, technological, social, economic and political barriers to the restoration of green ecosystems, including salt marshes, mangrove forests, seagrass, shell reefs, coral reefs and kelp forests. We provide managers, practitioners, and decision makers with a solution to construct a blue restoration plan based on barrier information, and illustrate these solutions using case studies where barriers have been overcome. On a larger and more ambitious scale, we provide society, government and restoration practitioners a way to build confidence in blue restoration.
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• The degradation and loss of habitat, coupled with the growing need for ecosystem-based climate change mitigation and adaptation, is increasing the relevance and need for marine and coastal or “blue” restoration.
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• Identifying barriers and evaluating potential pathways to achieve success is essential to enable blue restoration to play an important role in biodiversity conservation, climate change mitigation and adaptation.
Marine and coastal or “blue” ecosystems such as salt marshes, mangrove forests, seagrass, shell reefs, coral reefs, tidal flats, kelp forests and other seaweeds provide important ecosystem services of intrinsic value to the environment, society and economy. Sustainability (MEA, 2005). These ecosystem services include regulatory and maintenance services (eg coast protection, climate regulation), supply (eg food, nutrient cycling, water quality) and cultural benefits (eg recreation, tourism) (Barbier et al., 2011). . But the blue ecosystem is also the most modified system on the planet. Large-scale habitat loss has been reported for mangrove forests and salt marshes (Valiela et al., 2001; Gedan et al., 2009), kelp forests (Krumhansl et al., 2016), and coral reefs (Hughes et al., 2017). , shellfish reefs (Beck et al., 2011), seaweeds (Waycott et al., 2009; Arias-Ortiz et al., 2018) and tidal flats (Murray et al., 2019). Drivers of losses are diverse and include threats related to pollution, infestation or pests, disease, overfishing or destructive fishing practices, land conversion, climate change and related meteorological events (Valiela et al., 2001; Waycott et al., 2009). ; Beck et al., 2011). Ecosystem restoration is a priority when natural restoration of degraded habitats is slow, absent, or hampered by physical or biological factors (Perrow and Davy, 2002; SER, 2004).
Restoration describes interventions to support ecosystem recovery, while “blue restoration” refers to interventions focused on the restoration of marine and coastal ecosystems. The importance of restoring natural systems is recognized by numerous global conventions and conventions aimed at accelerating ecological restoration. These include the Millennium Ecosystem Assessment (MEA, 2005), the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD, 2010), the Bon Challenge (restore 350 million hectares by 2030), the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), in particular SDG14 “Life under Life. ” is included. Water” and “Ecosystem Restoration Decade 2021–2030” (Salvador, 2018; Waltham et al., 2020) and “Ocean Science Decade 2021–2030 for Sustainable Development” (UN, 2019).
Until recently, the focus of restoration was primarily on land. Blue restorations are still mostly small-scale and expensive, with limited long-term success (Bayraktarov et al., 2016). Achieving our ambitious global goals requires the successful implementation of blue restoration on a scale yet to be seen. A successful blue restoration must overcome environmental, technological, social, economic and political barriers to implementation. The identification and assessment of common barriers allows managers to target, prioritize, and potentially remove barriers during the planning phase to increase the likelihood of project success. Here, we describe common barriers to blue restoration projects, assess the level of threat to success for each ecosystem type, detail the relationship between barriers and restoration success, and provide real-world examples of barriers being overcome. Now is the time to build trust among society, government and restoration practitioners by addressing how to overcome barriers to scale blue restoration on an ecologically relevant scale.
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A series of workshop discussions between authors, based on their knowledge of the restoration literature, identified common barriers to successful blue restoration at the scale necessary to achieve future goals (MEA, 2005; CBD, 2010; Salvador, 2018; GMA, 2019). ). We have grouped them into five broad classes: environmental, technological, social, economic and political (Figure 1). To supplement the author’s knowledge, a search was performed against the Web of Science database and Google Scholar. The resulting literature (WebTable 1) (1) describes how environmental, technological, social, economic and political barriers can impede the success of blue restoration projects and (2) provides solutions to these barriers based on a literature search. was used (Table 1). One). These solutions are further illustrated using case studies including:
Figure 1. Common barriers to successful blue restoration. Barriers to restoration of salt marshes, mangrove forests, seaweed, shell reefs, coral reefs and kelp are shown.
• Restoration of coral reefs in Sulawesi, Indonesia, overcoming technological barriers using relatively inexpensive new technologies (Box 1).
• Mangrove restoration in Sulawesi, Indonesia, overcoming environmental (hydrological) barriers using creative solutions based on sound technical knowledge (Box 2).
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• Seagrass restoration in Chesapeake Bay, USA, where technical knowledge was used to implement seed propagation techniques to increase restoration capacity (Box 3). and
• Seashell restoration in Chesapeake Bay, USA to illustrate where political barriers have been overcome by facilitating stakeholder collaboration (Box 4).
BACKGROUND: The site (Plaubadi, Sulawesi, southern Indonesia) was damaged by storms, gust fishing, coral mining and boat channel construction, creating a coral remnant zone (Williams et al., 2019). Restoration success was measured relative to a reference site that was a nearby undisturbed reef.
Context and Solution: The project deployed a small modular open structure (‘spider’) to stabilize the debris and support the transplanted coral pieces over a two-year period. The structure allowed unrestricted water flow, contained broken coral pieces and debris, and stabilized the foundation to support coral recruitment, growth and diversity. The structure’s living coral cover increased from less than 10% to over 60%, depending on depth, deployment date, location and disturbance.
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BACKGROUND: Two mangrove restorations – Tiwoho Village, North Sulawesi (site referenced in Brown and Djamaluddin 2017); and Tanakeke Island, South Sulawesi (site referenced in Brown et al., 2014). Although these sites have similar histories of reclamation and land-use conversion, they represent very different conditions for mangrove restoration. Tiwoho is a highly productive mangrove system in the depths where the soil is silty, while Tanakeke is a low productivity mangrove system in shallow coral sand (Cameron et al., 2019).
Context and Solutions: A collaboration between scientists from Blue Forests (Yayasan Hutan Biru), Charles Darwin University and the National University of Singapore focuses on mangrove restoration by implementing Ecological Mangrove Restoration (EMR) (Lewis, 2005). This methodology includes hydrological modifications after evaluation of current conditions and site-specific requirements. Hydrologic restoration included the strategic destruction of pond walls, the creation of hand-dug ditches and tidal ditches, and the creation of substrate dikes to promote mangrove vegetation in deeper areas of the pond. These techniques simulate natural conditions, allowing mangrove propagation to be naturally recruited to the site of restoration. These projects are successful examples of overcoming complex hydrological problems with creative solutions.
BACKGROUND: The Chesapeake Bay ecosystem has been abused and degraded since European settlement 400 years ago (Cameron et al., 2019). The seaweed Zostera Marina was lost in 50% of the distribution and decreased by 30% in the 1990s (Orth et al., 2012). In response to environmental degradation across the bay, the Chesapeake Bay Program Partnership was formed in 1983. The Chesapeake Bay Foundation estimates the economic benefits of cleaning the Gulf Basin total $130 billion annually.
Context and Solutions: Despite improvements in water quality, natural recovery of seaweed has been slow. This has prompted interventions to help seaweed recover. Seed-based restoration provides an abundance of genetically diverse propagules. Large-scale restoration using seeds collected from an area adjacent to Chesapeake Bay began in the late 1990s (Orth et al., 2012). This reinforced recruitment above the natural level. Currently, between 1999 and 2015, 72 million seeds were added to a plot of 0.01 to 2 hectares, for a total of 200 hectares across four coastal bays. The extension from these initial plots to the seabed of approximately 2500 ha is due to seed dispersal and propagation in the original plots (Orth and Reeves, 2018, pers. comm.).
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BACKGROUND: In Chesapeake Bay, the eastern oyster (Crassostrea virginica) provides valuable services to commercial fishing, water purification and habitat. Over-harvesting, disease and habitat loss have reduced oyster populations to less than 1% of historical levels (Wilberg et al., 2011). Restoration of oysters in Chesapeake Bay began in 1914 and resulted in restoration of 100 hectares (Wilberg et al., 2011).
Context and Solutions: Chesapeake’s oyster restoration/management has been a cooperative and coordinated approach across political jurisdictions. This is a 2009 U.S. Executive Order (No.
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