Low-tech coral farming and reef rehabilitation have become important community-based coral reef management tools. At least in the wider Caribbean region, these strategies have been successfully implemented to recover depleted populations of staghorn (Acropora cervicornis) and elkhorn coral (A. palmata). They have also been used with relative success to recover depleted fish assemblages. Indirectly, coral reef rehabilitation has also resulted in enhanced benthic spatial heterogeneity, in providing multiple new microhabitats for fish and invertebrate species; have contributed to the recovery of coastal resilience, increasing the protection of shorelines against erosion; and have fostered an increased interest of the tourism sector as an enhanced attraction for visitors and recreationists. Nevertheless, there is still a need to implement best management practices to improve the success of these strategies. In this chapter, lessons learned from the Community-Based Coral Aquaculture and Reef Rehabilitation Program in Culebra Island, Puerto Rico, are shared from a multi-disciplinary standpoint. Learning from past experiences is a critical process to improve science. In a time of significant projected climate change impacts and sea level rise, improving the scale of coral farming and reef rehabilitation has become a critical tool for coral reef conservation. But multiple roadblocks must still be overcome.
Part of the book: Corals in a Changing World