Reef Restoration is Your Coastal Protection: The Key to Your Coastal Home’s Resiliency


By Olivia Wogan


From an environmental perspective, the value of coral reefs is both a well distinguished and established facet of information. Coral reefs are crucial contributors to sustaining ocean quality and are also essential homes in which vital biodiversity flourishes. These prescribed values are remarkable within an ecological sense, but they fail to commend the functional services these complex structures provide humans.



Figure 1. If you’re pressed for time, that’s ok! Don’t miss out on the information and read through this box to get the important points of this article quickly! By: Olivia Wogan

The intricate structural patterns and the increased surface area of corals allow them to serve as natural barriers against impending and violent conditions (Coral Reef Alliance).


Figure 2. Reef wave reduction explained by Ferrarlo,F. et al, 2014

Generally, environmental proponents take this approach and coral reefs become categorized in a way that separates their ecological prominence from you. The immense value of coral reefs has been condensed in this purely environmentally-oriented manner which has displaced our perspective of it to stray from recognizing the true value coral reefs hold in reference to humans. For instance, coastal communities are generally aware and supportive of coral restoration efforts due to their close proximity and tangible association. However, the public often fails to recognize both the personal incentive and protective properties these ecosystems have to offer them directly. This oversight can oftentimes be attributed to communication gaps in the information publicly transmitted. Through unwavering efforts, the environmental value of corals and the personally anthropocentric value is lost in translation between the realm of science and the public. This prevents people from being able to easily see the true interconnectedness between society and the environment that coral reefs encapsulate. While environmental issues do influence our lives in many aspects, when caught up in the throes of society or burdened by the technicalities of human life, they lose the priority status. This natural response in reference to coral reefs has probably caused you to wonder how coral restoration pertains to you. What personal incentive could coral reefs hold? Furthermore and in the broader sense, how will the restoration of these degrading ecosystems help you now or benefit your current experience of everyday life? For these questions to arise is completely normal and valid in their contextual concern. It is admittedly hard to prioritize long-term concepts such as restoration when facing issues that in the short-term seem more prominent and demanding of one's attention. However, the answer to these questions in regards to coastal communities lies within coral reefs and an educationally driven reexamination of how coral reefs function as green infrastructure.




Figure 3. Tokoriki Island. By: Malcom Peacey/Flickr through a Creative Commons license. 

The solution to this issue is primarily educationally based, as many are merely unaware of the factors that deem coral reefs to be of significant personal importance. Coastal communities are excessively rendered more vulnerable to threats of erosion, floods, and storm surges as natural green infrastructure is degraded and climate change fuels these conditions to intensify. Since such communities border the coast, they are exceedingly more susceptible to experiencing these threats and face the implications of these environmental conditions encroaching upon their homes. The intricate structural patterns and the increased surface area of corals allow them to serve as natural barriers against impending and violent conditions (Coral Reef Alliance). In other words, restored coral reefs serve as forms of green infrastructure inherently by way of their complex structures. Healthy coral reefs are equipped to reduce an estimated 97 percent of the detrimental energy from oncoming waves, storms, and floods from reaching shoreline communities (NOAA and US Department of Commerce, 2013). This limits the impact endured by the community in addition to obstructing the everyday progression of coastal erosion. Thus for communities and from a coastal management perspective, coral reefs serve as the natural systems form of the first line of defense against ocean-born hazards such as hurricanes (The Nature Conservancy, 2019). Currently coral reefs serve as a form coastal protection for more than 150,000 km of shoreline (Reef Resilience). While this number is impacted by the swift degradation of these ecosystems it has the potential to increase if coastal communities become more involved in restoration efforts. This in turn innately allows coral reefs to diminish the losses of life and property damages that many coastal communities suffer from the implications of their homes falling within vulnerable storm regions (NOAA and US Department of Commerce, 2013). The use of coral reefs as coastal protection additionally provides coastal homeowners with the personal incentive of increasing their natural hazard resiliency in a cost-effective alternative way in comparison to their generally expensive gray infrastructure counterparts (levees, jetties, seawalls, etc.) (EPA, 2020).


"Healthy coral reefs are equipped to reduce an estimated 97 percent of the detrimental energy from oncoming waves, storms, and floods from reaching shoreline communities (NOAA and US Department of Commerce, 2013).

The solution to this issue is primarily educationally based, as many are merely unaware of the factors that deem coral reefs to be of significant personal importance. Coastal communities are excessively rendered more vulnerable to threats of erosion, floods, and storm surges as natural green infrastructure is degraded and climate change fuels these conditions to intensify. Since such communities border the coast, they are exceedingly more susceptible to experiencing these threats and face the implications of these environmental conditions encroaching upon their homes. The intricate structural patterns and the increased surface area of corals allow them to serve as natural barriers against impending and violent conditions (Coral Reef Alliance). In other words, restored coral reefs serve as forms of green infrastructure inherently by way of their complex structures.


Healthy coral reefs are equipped to reduce an estimated 97 percent of the detrimental energy from oncoming waves, storms, and floods from reaching shoreline communities (NOAA and US Department of Commerce, 2013). This limits the impact endured by the community in addition to obstructing the everyday progression of coastal erosion. Thus for communities and from a coastal management perspective, coral reefs serve as the natural systems form of the first line of defense against ocean-born hazards such as hurricanes (The Nature Conservancy, 2019). Currently coral reefs serve as a form coastal protection for more than 150,000 km of shoreline (Reef Resilience). While this number is impacted by the swift degradation of these ecosystems it has the potential to increase if coastal communities become more involved in restoration efforts. This in turn innately allows coral reefs to diminish the losses of life and property damages that many coastal communities suffer from the implications of their homes falling within vulnerable storm regions (NOAA and US Department of Commerce, 2013). The use of coral reefs as coastal protection additionally provides coastal homeowners with the personal incentive of increasing their natural hazard resiliency in a cost-effective alternative way in comparison to their generally expensive gray infrastructure counterparts (levees, jetties, seawalls, etc.) (EPA, 2020).







"While this number is impacted by the swift degradation of these ecosystems it has the potential to increase if coastal communities become more involved in restoration efforts.






Francesca Reina


Given this knowledge of coral reefs’ protective attributes, a direct connection between restorative efforts and coastal home safety is drawn. The solution is singular, yet, is multifaceted in the benefits reaped from the restoration of these advantageous ecosystems. In the short term, coral restoration can allow coastal communities to gain a reaffirmed sense of security by knowing that their homes are naturally guarded against threatening conditions, take advantage of the cost-effective form of enhanced coastal resiliency, and experience less concern for their communities safe when hurricane season commences or other natural hazards threaten to reach their region. Long-term wise, restoration serves to support ocean biodiversity and health, reduce shoreline erosion, as well as promote the welfare of those communities bordering the coastline. By implementing coral restoration and highlighting the personal incentives their existence represents, we can harness more involvement and dedication for their continence and contribution to a more resilient future. We need only to shift our perspective of coral reefs to include their innate personal usefulness. When it is disclosed how the success of these ecosystems relates to and directly impacts your life, one becomes emotionally and personally invested in their restoration.


"Thereby coral restoration is an integral form of coastal management and should be viewed as such. Coral reefs are synonymous with our homes for a variety of species.

Ultimately, the oceanic epicenters of coral reefs extend their various ecosystem services far beyond their ocean domain. Coral reef restoration offers us the novel opportunity to lessen the larger-scale anthropocentric concerns of safety that coastal communities face and simultaneously improve the ocean’s environment. Thereby coral restoration is an integral form of coastal management and should be viewed as such. Coral reefs are synonymous with our homes for a variety of species. To these ocean-dwelling species, coral reefs represent a safe haven, a sense of security, and a place of belonging within the vast waters. The restoration of these prominent ecosystems thus becomes that much more pertinent, as they hold the potential to not only preserve a singular type of home but two.



Cited Works


Coastal Protection. Coral Reef Alliance. (n.d.).


Environmental Protection Agency. (2020, October 29). Coastal Resiliency. EPA.


Insuring Nature to Ensure a Resilient Future. The Nature Conservancy. (2019, September 3).


US Department of Commerce, N. O. and A. A. (2013, June 1). The Importance of Coral Reefs - Corals: NOAA's National Ocean Service Education. Corals Tutorial.

90 views0 comments

Recent Posts

See All

Follow Us