Reef Restoration & Resilience

Research & Training

After a long history implementing restoration projects, Reef Ecologic has become an industry leader in restoration training and adaptive management to assist the recovery and build resilience of coral reefs.

Reef Ecologic is an industry leader in community based reef restoration projects in the Great Barrier Reef. By implementing innovative techniques Reef Ecologic are researching and testing a variety of methods and techniques to be used implemented as adaptive management tools. We have delivered world-class reef restoration training, capacity building and leadership and continue to upskill community members across Australia and elsewhere. 

Corals Outplanted


Coral reefs all around the world are experiencing a sustained decline in key indicators of condition (such as coral cover) due an accumulation of local and global pressures. This is being met by an intensification of management efforts, with a strong focus on increased investment in addressing local sources of stress, such as degraded water quality, overfishing and crown-of-thorns starfish outbreaks. Increasingly, communities and governments are also looking at active restoration methods as a complement to stress-reduction programs to accelerate recovery of local reefs, and to involve local communities in stewardship activities.

Responding to these changes, combined with future climate projections, has led to a refocus of management efforts and the adoption of new approaches to secure the future for this irreplaceable icon.

Restoration is well-established as a management tool in terrestrial environments. For example revegetation of lands cleared for agriculture or development, planting grasses and trees to stabilise river banks and engineering interventions to restore water movement in wetlands are all common examples of restoration actions that are helping improve the quality of water entering the Great Barrier Reef from its catchments.


Restoration is the process of assisting recovery of ecosystems that have been degraded, damaged or destroyed. Restoration normally involves measures that remove impediments to natural recovery (passive restoration) or aim to accelerate recolonization by transplanting of organisms or their propagules (active restoration). In the context of coral reefs, passive restoration includes activities such as controlling coral predators or removing nuisance algae. Active restoration includes activities such as transplanting corals, introducing urchins or enhancing recruitment of larvae. Restoration projects involving corals are often a combination of both active and passive restorations. While reef restoration project can take many forms, key defining features of restoration include the species chosen as the focus for restoration actions, and the long-term goals.


Over the last few years Reef Ecologic has partnered with a number of local community groups, businesses, government and Traditional Owners to implement a variety of restoration programs across the Great Barrier Reef.

In 2017, Reef Ecologic assisted the Reef Restoration Foundation to gain permission for and establish the first community-based coral gardening reef restoration project on the Great Barrier Reef at Fitzroy Island, offshore Cairns.  In the same year Reef Ecologic implemented an innovative mineral accretion reef restoration project with AMPTO and Quicksilver Connections at Quicksilver Connection’s Agincourt Reef pontoon site.

Reef Ecologic is an active participant in reef restoration projects in other regions of the GBR involving collaboration on innovation and technology. For example, we are working with Wavelength Reef Cruises of Port Douglas and their research partner David Suggett from University of Technology Sydney (UTS) to expand the geographical range of research focused on new products (Coralclip ™) designed to improve the efficiency and accessibility of active reef restoration as a stewardship tool for the local community and the tourism industry in the GBR.

Reef Ecologic’s role as co-lead in the NESP project ‘Reef Restoration in the GBR’ demonstrates their leadership in developing and guiding reef restoration in the region. All these examples showcase our ability to develop, maintain and support effective collaborative relationships in the marine science and research space specifically in the field of reef restoration.



Restoration Projects in the Great Barrier Reef


Socio-economic objectives are crucial success indicators  of in-situ community based restoration programs. Engaging community members and key stakeholders, especially the tourism industry in the Whitsundays reef restoration has been a key element of our ongoing stakeholder engagement throughout the project. Activities have included extensive consultation and communication, sharing the journey with stakeholders as the project progresses. Additionally, we have focused on providing opportunities hands on involvement by community members especially tourism industry staff.

“A thoroughly enjoyable and rewarding weekend out with Reef Ecologic team at Blue Pearl Bay with a great collection of local industry representatives. The work that they are doing is inspirational on many levels and to be a part of the community wanting to make positive changes is so personally rewarding. I look forward to the next opportunity to participate in this project.”

Bruce Purdie

local community volunteer

Reef Ecologic Restoration
Project Outcomes
  • Increase in coral abundance & cover
  • Enhanced coral sexual reproduction
  • Rebuild trophic structure
  • Increase connectivity
  • Restore fish and invertebrate habitat
  • Restore reef structure
  • Increase species richness and diversity (at site)
  • Foster local conservation
  • Improved diving tourism
  • Alternate livelihoods
  • Ecotourism
  • Education, outreach, citizen science
  • Income generation

from Hein et al 2017

Whether developing guidelines, policy, project plans or experimental designs to support reef restoration projects, or building capacity to enable effective implementation, Reef Ecologic’s expertise enables our team to design, implement and evaluate professional ecological recovery strategies that assist in restoring the delivery of vital ecosystem goods and services.

Key areas of expertise:

  • Reef restoration training and guidance
  • Reef restoration project implementation
  • Monitoring and evaluation

Key Projects:

Reef Ecologic is partnered with James Cook University scientists seeking the best ideas from around the world to find ways to help repair the Great Barrier Reef (GBR).The first step of the project is a global review of what has worked elsewhere. Dr Ian McLeod from JCU’s Tropical Water & Aquatic Ecosystem Research Hub and Dr Adam Smith from Reef Ecologic are co-leading the project. Read the full JCU media release HERE

Reef Ecologic Restoration Projects

Whitsundays Reef Restoration


As part of the Cyclone Debbie Tourism Recovery Fund our team are partnering with Tourism Whitsundays and the Whitsunday Regional Council to implement the first significant coral gardening exercise in the Whitsundays region. This program has been designed through extensive community and stakeholder consultation, enabling us to identify priority locations for restoring ecosystem services critical to the local community and tourism industry. Read more about the project HERE

The Great Barrier Reef’s First Mineral Accretion Reef Restoration Project


Our team has partnered with Quicksilver Connections, one of Queensland largest tourism organisations, to implement the first trial of mineral accretion technology to support reef recovery on the Great Barrier Reef. A key dive site adjacent to Quicksilver’s large tourist pontoon has provided an opportunity to develop restoration approaches for use at reefs that have suffered the combined effects of coral bleaching, cyclone damage and crown-of-thorns starfish infestations.

Restoring reefs for sustainable tourism


Our team collaborated with local businesses and the community to establish new coral reef sites using context-appropriate restoration methods and technologies. The new snorkel and dive sites were created from corals grown in a coral nursery. Advanced coral fragments were outplanted onto degraded reef areas and specially-installed structures to enhance diversity and support recovery of species affected by coral bleaching.

Reef Restoration Foundation


In collaboration with a team of volunteers, local businesses, organisations and researchers established the first coral nursery on the Great Barrier Reef. The project was implemented in the shallow fringing reef around Fitzroy Island, 25km east of Cairns.

Key Partners