Regulatory implications of coral reef restoration and adaptation under a changing climate

26 June 2019

Coral reef restoration is gaining considerable momentum globally in response to climate change and other anthropogenic impacts on coral reefs. In Australia, as part of the Reef Restoration and Adaptation Program (RRAP), a range of unconventional interventions are currently being investigated to help the Great Barrier Reef resist, repair and recover from climate change. Many of these interventions are based on innovative approaches, such as assisted evolution. The regulatory environment is likely to be critical in determining the feasibility and viability of reef restoration and adaptation interventions. It influences what, where and how to restore, who should be responsible for, engaged in, and benefit from restoration. This study explores the regulatory implications of proposed restoration and adaptation interventions in the context of the Great Barrier Reef. This includes mapping the existing regulatory and governance landscape, establishing an approach to account for regulatory requirements of restoration and adaptation interventions, and examining regulatory issues associated with their development and deployment. The study also scopes administrative capacity; i.e., the capacity of regulators in terms of resources and skills required to assess novel risks and impacts of reef restoration and adaptation interventions. It provides important insights that may prove useful for other jurisdictions, where ecosystem restoration and adaptation has become an imperative under a fast-changing climate.




  • Regulation is critical for reef restoration interventions.
  • Reef restoration will be implemented in a complex regulatory environment.
  • New regulatory arrangements are needed for unconventional reef interventions.