A quantitative synthesis of approaches, biases, successes, and failures in marine forest restoration, with considerations for future work

Hannah S. Earp*, Dan A. Smale, Alejandro Pérez-Matus, Adam Gouraguine, Paul W. Shaw, Pippa J. Moore

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

2 Citations (SciVal)
48 Downloads (Pure)


Marine forests is a term commonly used for coastal marine habitats formed by dense stands of brown macroalgae, typically consisting of kelp and fucoids. These habitats are highly productive, offer habitat to numerous marine organisms, and support a range of invaluable ecosystem services. Despite their importance, marine forests are declining in many regions around the world as a result of interacting global, regional, and local-scale stressors. Consequently, interest in restoration as a tool to mitigate these declines and reinstate marine forests is growing. Recent reviews have provided insights into marine forest restoration; however, for the most part, a synthesis of restoration success is lacking. A meta-analysis and quantitative review of published marine forest restoration efforts was conducted to examine: (i) how restoration affects the abundance and morphology of marine forest species; and (ii) trends in marine forest restoration success. The meta-analysis of 25 studies revealed that restoration positively influences the abundance and morphology of marine forest species. The quantitative review of 63 studies demonstrated that taxa and restoration technique were important factors influencing restoration success, and revealed a bias towards the monitoring and reporting of abundance and morphological response variables. The review also highlighted a lack of monitoring and/or reporting of environmental variables at restoration sites, and limited comparative research across environmental contexts and restored species. It is shown that successful marine forest restoration is possible at experimental scales, but that better monitoring and reporting of restoration efforts, alongside increased project durations, could improve our understanding of restoration success at the ecosystem level. Considerations for future marine forest restoration efforts are also provided. It is hoped that the review will advance marine forest restoration efforts, allowing the preservation of these valuable ecosystems and their associated services.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1717-1731
Number of pages15
JournalAquatic Conservation: Marine and Freshwater Ecosystems
Issue number11
Early online date19 Sept 2022
Publication statusPublished - 01 Nov 2022


  • afforestation
  • canopy-forming macroalgae
  • Fucales
  • kelp
  • Laminariales
  • meta-analysis
  • repopulation
  • seaweed
  • sustainable management


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