Special Issue: Marine Pollution Bulletin Volume 37, Numbers 8-12, 1999


Guest editors:

Dr Alasdair Edwards, Centre for Tropical Coastal Management Studies, University of Newcastle upon Tyne;
Emeritus Professor Colin Field, Faculty of Science, University of Technology, Sydney;
Dr Miguel Fortes, Marine Science Institute, University of the Philippines.

The field of coastal habitat rehabilitation has been steadily growing over the last two decades. As salt marsh, mangrove, coral reef, seagrass, dune and other coastal systems have been increasingly subject to anthropogenic impacts, so research into techniques to rehabilitate these has burgeoned together with the implementation of projects to restore habitats.

A number of national (e.g. NOAA National Workshop on Goal Setting and Success Criteria for Coastal Habitat Restoration - 12-14 January 1998, Charleston, South Carolina; British Ecological Society meeting on Restoration of Aquatic Ecosystems - 2-3 September 1997, Newcastle upon Tyne, United Kingdom) and international workshops (e.g. International Workshop on the Rehabilitation of Degraded Coastal Systems - 19-24 January 1998, Phuket, Thailand) and meetings on habitat restoration were scheduled for 1997 and 1998. In these the success of restoration projects and methodologies in both developing and developed countries with boreal to equatorial coastal habitats were evaluated.

The purpose of this Special Issue was to bring together key research on habitat restoration in temperate and tropical latitudes in a single volume, to evaluate critically its effectiveness, and to provide a summary of the state of the art.

There were a range of questions and critical issues which the volume sought to address. They included:

  • How do the particular ecological parameters of impacted systems (e.g. dynamited reef, clear-cut mangrove forest, abandoned shrimp pond) affect what can be achieved in terms of restoration and the likely timescales of recovery?
  • What are the precise objectives of restoration projects and what institutional, socio-political and economic factors should be taken into account when planning rehabilitation projects?
  • How successful have restoration projects been and which techniques (scientific and management) have contributed to success? What lessons have been learnt from failures?
  • What are the criteria (ecological, political, economic, social, legislative) against which success is (or can be) measured?
  • Which functions of degraded coastal systems can feasibly be restored and which cannot?
  • Is coastal habitat restoration cost-effective (or could funding devoted to rehabilitation be spent to greater benefit in other ways)? Is the perceived ability to rehabilitate/restore habitats in mitigation, increasing the threat to existing undegraded habitat?