While the world’s oceans and associated marine life are imperiled by numerous human-induced threats, island restoration is a novel tool that has the potential to improve adjacent critical marine habitats. Removing invasive species from oceanic islands, while restoring native species and terrestrial ecosystems, may also enhance coral reef productivity in nearshore areas. Research suggests that the return of seabirds and native vegetation helps reestablish critically important terrestrial-marine interactions, including nutrient flows.
Our desire is to determine the range of benefits that island restoration provides for our world’s oceans, identify and fill remaining knowledge gaps, and help prioritize conservation efforts with both significant terrestrial and marine outcomes. Island Conservation envisions working with marine conservation experts to increase the pace of this work and contribute to research to better understand the ridge-to-reef connection.
Additional research will establish a deeper understanding of the benefits for temperate marine ecosystems and the circumstances in which island restoration initiatives are most likely to produce significant nearshore benefits. Ultimately, invasive species removal, as well as native wildlife and plant restoration on islands, could become established approaches to marine conservation—preventing extinctions and resulting in thriving marine ecosystems.
There is a modest, but growing body of scientific evidence that correlates healthy marine ecosystems to unaltered, or restored, invasive-species-free islands with robust populations of native plants, seabirds, and other wildlife.