Australasian Science: Australia's authority on science since 1938

Restoring Marine Coastal Ecosystems: What’s the Cost?

By Megan Saunders and Elisa Bayraktarov

A review of the costs and feasibility of marine restoration projects reveals that they are often very expensive and risky.

The full text of this article can be purchased from Informit.

Coasts are popular areas for tourism, recreation, transportation and development. Unfortunately, our love affair with coastal regions has resulted in significant damage to large areas of natural habitat. The result has been extensive and rapid rates of decline in a range of important ecosystems including seagrass, coral reefs, mangroves, saltmarsh and oysters. This decline is being witnessed worldwide.

Along with the loss of habitat comes a decline of the ecosystem services they provide. These include the provision of habitat for threatened, iconic or fished species, shoreline protection from waves and storm surges, water filtration, and carbon storage to help mitigate climate change.

There is now considerable interest in reversing trends in the decline of coastal ecosystems. This means restoration – the process of removing the factors causing ecosystems to disappear, and/or establishing plants or animals to replace those that have been lost. Restoration is also an important element of biodiversity-offsetting projects, where losses of biodiversity from a development at one site are “offset”, or replaced, by restoration of a degraded site.

There is one important catch. For restoration to achieve a particular goal we must be able to anticipate how likely the project is to succeed, and how much it will cost.

Our study examined the cost and...

The full text of this article can be purchased from Informit.