Coral Reefs: Anthropogenic Impacts and Restoration in the Caribbean
Coral reefs present a multitude of ecosystem services and benefits, but these ecosystems are becoming increasingly threatened. Internationally, coral reefs are facing a multitude of challenges with many of these deriving from or induced by human activities, and this is evident in the Caribbean. Commonly cited impacts include climate change, pollution, development, tourism, and overfishing, while less discussed but also important are marine debris and the ornamental trade. With the rise of restoration initiatives to mitigate coral reef losses, initiatives should present diverse approaches and account for complexity to mimic the intricacy of natural coral reef systems; facilitate stronger management and governance practices; and integrate a focus on novel coral ecosystems. A survey study is conducted of restoration projects located around the Caribbean Sea to apply the literature to practical examples, and outline which restoration approaches are being used, the most common human impacts that coral reefs are facing in the area, and the challenges projects are facing. 11 projects (and 12 individuals) from different locations were surveyed and quantified to depict common trends. Results outline that the majority of restoration projects present diverse, active approaches that are being implemented and or considered. There are improvements that can be made in some areas; however, considering the challenges, complexity and economic strains behind coral restoration, survey results show that achieving multi-faceted approaches requires many non-linear factors with some of the variables being beyond the control of restoration projects themselves. Ultimately, it is necessary that local governments and global networks place a stronger focus on assisting restoration projects with updating regulations and frameworks in regard to human activities, establishing standardized guidelines for restoration, and improving economic support for restoration initiatives.