Ecological restoration in coastal marine ecosystems

Abstract

Ecological restoration is required over large scales to meet global agreements such as the Aichi Targets and Sustainable Development Goals, and to satisfy national level policies related to ecological offsetting. In coastal marine environments, current efforts to restore lost habitats, such as mangroves, coral reefs, seagrass meadows, oyster reefs and saltmarshes lag far behind rates of loss. Slow uptake of coastal restoration practices is driven in part by uncertainty in whether marine ecosystems can be restored over large spatial scales and persist in time, and perceived low return on investment compared to other conservation actions. Further, given that degradation in coastal environments is often attributed to land-use change in catchments, restoring adjacent landscapes could in theory yield better outcomes than directly restoring marine habitats. I will present results from quantitative literature review, synthesis and modelling to 1) characterise cost and feasibility of marine restoration from published reports; 2) connect conservation actions in landscapes to ecological state in downstream marine ecosystems; and 3) quantify circumstances under which marine restoration should be prioritised over other conservation actions.

Biography

Megan is Senior Research Scientist at CSIRO Oceans and Atmosphere based in Brisbane. Her research program focusses on biophysical and socio-economic science to underpin decision making in coastal marine ecosystems including seagrass meadows, coral reefs, and mangroves. She obtained a PhD in Oceanography from Dalhousie University, Canada in 2010, held a postdoctoral research position in Oceans Institute at the University of Western Australia in 2010, and held various appointments at the University of Queensland from 2011-2019, including a UQ Development Fellowship. Her current and emerging research focuses on spatial ecological modelling, marine restoration, blue carbon, and “building with nature”.