Abstract Restoration of red mangroves (Rhizophora mangle) in high-energy environments has proven difficult in the past, but it is a critical aspect of restoration science, since mangroves provide natural protection to shorelines and buffer sensitive near-shore tropical ecosystems. We present here the initial field results from a pilot test of a new technique for the restoration of R. mangle in high-energy environments, using anchored armored concrete cultivator pots to stabilize the juvenile mangrove until it can establish a network of buttress roots. Mangroves were reared in a nursery for 15 months before transplantation to fully and partially exposed field sites. Mangroves transplanted in this way on Grand Cayman Island were able to survive two direct hurricane hits shortly after transplantation during the hurricane season of 2008, with survival rates ranging from 42% to 73% depending on the exposure of the site. We discuss the implications of these results and a proposed revision to our technique, which we hope will eliminate the work-intensive and costly nursery phase while also facilitating higher survival rates by minimizing washout, which was a key source of mortality, accounting for 20%-50% of mortalities, depending on site.
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