Coral Restoration Program

Simon Dowling
Published: 26 August 2021
Last edited: 08 February 2023
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In 2010, we began our first coral restoration process with coral nurseries provided by the Department of Marine and Coastal Resources in Koh Tao, Thailand. We have expanded the area to 200 square metres, building artificial structures to act as substrate for coral to be permanently transplanted with coral fragments.

Using long term monitoring and maintainance, including photographs and measurement data, we can assess the health and provide research into coral growth rates in different environments.



Southeast Asia
Scale of implementation
Coral reef
Marine and coastal ecosystems
Fisheries and aquaculture
Habitat fragmentation and degradation
Invasive alien species
Marine litter
Science and research
Increasing temperatures
Land and Forest degradation
Loss of Biodiversity
Ocean warming and acidification
Conflicting uses / cumulative impacts
Invasive species
Pollution (incl. eutrophication and litter)
Unsustainable harvesting incl. Overfishing
Lack of technical capacity
Lack of public and decision maker’s awareness
Poor monitoring and enforcement
Poor governance and participation
Business engagement approach
Direct engagement with associations


Crystal Dive Resort, Mae Haad, Ko Pha-ngan, Surat Thani 84360, Thailand


  • Decline in health of the coral reefs around the island due to climate change issues such as ocean acidification and sea temperature rising.
  • Damaging fishing practices due to overfishing, use of trawling nets or no quota regulation.
  • Boat anchoring on coral reefs causing large impact damage.
  • Inappropriate rubbish disposal by throwing trash overboard at sea, or on the streets and beaches on land.


  • Tourists benefit with better quality diving. 
  • Local community economically better in long term.

How do the building blocks interact?

Combining governmental departments and local communities with our research programs and sustainable practices helps bringing awareness to the threats that the marine ecosystem faces and how it will affect them in the future. By making the local communtiy and stakeholders more aware of the reef ecosystem and educating them of how our behaviors can affect the health of the ocean, they are learning to understand the importance to keeping it healthy (Building Block 1).

Involving the government to approve our practices, enables us to conduct our restoration activities without any legal issues (Bulding Block 2). By conducting coral restoration (Building Block 3) and other marine based activites we also help improve fish population as juvenile fish use coral reefs for protection.


Using our holistic approach, encompassing all aspects that affect the marine ecosystem, helps the local community see a longer term view using sustainable practices to keep a healthy ecosystem for their tourism and food industry.


Changing behaviours of fishing practices, boat anchoring and rubbish disposal to a more sustainable process also helps keeping the reef healthier.


  • Increase awareness on local and govermental level.
  • New zones for coral restoration.
  • Shared knowledge to increase research.
  • Increase in protection laws.

Our Adopt A Coral program started in 2016, enabling divers and non divers to learn and contribute to our coral restoration efforts. All data we collect from the program is published online and is freely available for research into coral growth.


By conducting coral restoration and other marine based activites we also help improve fish population, as juvenile fish use coral reefs for protection.




    Simon Dowling

    Arriving on the island of Koh Tao in 2009 to complete professional diver qualifications, we soon saw a need for an environmentally focused group. Joining with others to create a marine conservation organisation, we began looking at ways to help the degrading and abused coral reefs around the island.

    We began to create programs to educate and involve tourists and the local community, to show them that there were alternative ways to do things that would make the ecosystem better and would economically be beneficial to them. We began with very small goals, such as a campaign to ban single use plastics, beach clean ups and a small research area underwater where we could conduct research on coral growth. Today, this area has expanded to a 200sqm area that is fully approved by the Department of Marine and Coast Resources.

    Our Adopt A Coral program began in 2016, where divers and non divers could contribute to coral restoration by partially funding the process of coral transplantation. We conduct regular surveys of all the coral adoptions with measurements and photographs published online every 3 months. Sharing knowledge with other like minded organisations has led to many areas of the island being zoned for restoration purposes and regulations against fishing and anchoring, and we work together on major projects with the government to continue to implement changes to improve the ecosystem.

    With the community more aware of the environmental impacts that they can help to increase the health of our coral reefs, benefitting local stakeholders and tourism satisfaction.

    Contributed by

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    Simon Dowling The Coral Tribe