Restoration Project

Universidad Austral de Chile - Pan de Azúcar National Park

Restoration Objective:

This study aimed to explore new restoration techniques for Macrocystis and Lessonia in order to develop fishermen-feasible techniques with a good cost-benefit ratio, in order to restore major extensions of these economically important kelp forests along Chilean coasts.

Site Selection Criteria:

Sandy and rocky subtidal habitats of Bahía Chasco were selected for Macrocystis restoration and rocky intertidal habitats for Lessonia at Bahia Chañaral. Currently, there is no evidence of over-exploitation of Macrocystis at of Bahía Chasco despite a large fishery. Bahia Chañaral, on the other hand, was severely affected for more than 35 years by mining dump deposition into Salado River and Lessonia is no longer present.

Cause Of Decline:

The Chilean kelp fishery produces more than 300,000 t yearly, and it is carried out mainly by local fishermen. The incapacity to reproduce high-energy tolerant culture systems for Lessonia nigrescens and economically feasible installations for Macrocystis pyrifera led to 100 % of kelp biomass being collected only from natural beds in Chile, despite already having developed several aquaculture alternatives for them.

Key Reasons For Decline:

Water Pollution

Scientific Paper

Holdfast fragmentation of Macrocystis pyrifera (integrifolia morph) and Lessonia berteroana in Atacama (Chile): a novel approach for kelp bed restoration

R. Westermeier, P. Murua, D.J. Patino, L. Munoz, D.G. Muller, , Journal of Applied Phycology, Vol. 28.


Universidad Austral de Chile

Site Observations:

Observation Date

1st Jul 2012 – 1st Mar 2013

Action Summary:

Holdfast portions were excised from parental specimens of Macrocystis pyrifera and Lessonia berteroana including parts of stipes and phylloids. Untreated adult thalli and unmanipulated specimens served as controls. Fragments of both species were attached to boulders or rock platforms with elastic bands or cyanoacrylate glue.

Lessons Learned:

In future studies, it is recommended that researchers incorporate fragments from multiple parent individuals and even from different populations in order to enlarge the genetic diversity of a desired restored population, avoid consanguinity problems, and promote a sustainable natural recruitment.

Project Outcomes:

Transplanted fragments quickly formed new haptera, colonised new substrata, and reached reproductive maturity. At 4 months, maximum growth was seen on the rocky platform with fronds reaching over 200 cm and holdfasts over 30 cm in size. Fragments attached to boulders also showed good growth irrespective of fixation methods. In Lessonia, tissue of non-injured zones took over new holdfast growth. There were no differences in total growth on different substrata and thalli grew up to 25–80 cm in 8 months. Holdfast growth was significantly higher in rocky platform plants and lowest boulders and the unmanipulated controls. Both species proceeded to complete regeneration of holdfasts. However, holdfasts of older Macrocystis thalli partly decomposed, resulting in two apparently identical individuals.

Key Reasons For Decline:

Water Pollution

Area of Restoration (In Square Metres)


Indicator Data:


Ending Value:

Starting Value:

Percent Survival

Cost Currency:USD