By Dana Niland
The first-ever global conference addressing coral reef restoration and intervention science took place last week in Key Largo, Fla., featuring over 550 leading scientists and experts from nearly 40 countries.
The symposium, Reef Futures, addressed challenges facing the planet’s coral reefs by sharing solutions, new research, experimental techniques and promoting collaboration between global leaders in the field.
It was held at the Ocean Reef Club in Key Largo.
“The challenge of saving the world’s coral reefs is huge,” noted Tom Moore, Coral Restoration Lead at the U.S. National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration’s Restoration Center and Co-Chair of the Coral Restoration Consortium. “We know restoration and resiliency are part of the solution. We know the challenge is just as much about engineering as it is biology. At Reef Futures we were given an opportunity to share local successes and turn them into global solutions.”
The week-long event featured site visits to some of the world’s leading coral reef restoration programs.
“Reef Futures took place right next to Key Largo’s famous Carysfort Reef – an iconic example of a reef in crisis,” said Scott Winters, CEO of the Coral Restoration Foundation and Co-Chair of the Coral Restoration Consortium. “But Coral Restoration Foundation is demonstrating that Carysfort Reef could soon become an iconic example of a reef restored, thanks to significant commitments from organizations like Ocean Reef Club and NOAA.”
National experts had the opportunity to share information on active interventions addressing the historic outbreak of stony coral tissues loss disease, affecting 22 species along the Florida Reef Tract.
The event also featured a day-long workshop for local and international teens to learn about coral restoration and share their stories.
“We are accountable to future generations for securing the very resources that have helped us and generations before us to thrive,” said Dr. Luis A. Solórzano, executive director for The Nature Conservancy in the Caribbean. “By convening the leading experts from around the world we have helped to advance innovative coral restoration practices. We are all looking for solutions and many already exist. It is now in our hands to scale up restoration globally before it is too late.”