A new toolkit to provide guidelines on how to complete a successful coral restoration project has been launched by Nature Seychelles, a not-for-profit environmental organisation.
The launch coincides with the Reef Futures Symposium being held in Key Largo, Florida, in the United States from December 10-14. The toolkit is based on a ground-breaking large-scale coral reef restoration project carried out by Nature Seychelles in the 115-island archipelago in the western Indian Ocean.
The chief executive of Nature Seychelles, Nirmal Shah, said, “This is an opportune moment to showcase our efforts in Seychelles to the global coral reef restoration community. We want to share best practices, techniques, and tools, as well as challenges and lessons learnt to help others who might want to carry out similar work. Scientists who worked on the toolkit are attending the conference and will be on hand to discuss these efforts.”
The toolkit describes how to complete a coral reef restoration project using the ‘coral gardening’ concept.’ It further illustrates the protocol used in the restoration, as well as guidance on appropriate design, logistics, and execution of the project based on experience and field-tested methods.
The toolkit provides guidelines on how to complete a successful coral restoration project. (Nature Seychelles) Photo License: CC-BY
In 2010 Nature Seychelles — a leading environmental conservation organisation — embarked on the first large-scale coral restoration project in Seychelles following the mass coral bleaching as a result of the El Niño phenomenon of 1998. The Reef Rescuers project was funded through a grant from the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) to combat climate change-induced coral bleaching in Seychelles.
Choosing the coral fragments that had survived the destructive effects of the disruptive weather patterns brought about by the phenomenon, a group of marine ecologists embarked on creating an underwater nursery where nine different types of juvenile corals were planted and raised on ropes for almost a year, known as ‘the coral gardening’ method.
“We explain the methods used in our coral reef restoration project and how we solved the problems encountered, using low-cost solutions with the limited resources found in a small island developing nation,” said Shah.
In the Reef Rescuers project, the first to be done in the world, raised over 40,000 corals fragments in underwater nurseries and transplanted over 24,000 onto a 5,225-square metre of degraded reef — the size of a football pitch — at Cousin Island Special Reserve. The reserve is a 50-year old Marine Protected Area managed by the Nature Seychelles.
A total of 23 staff and over 40 volunteer scientific divers from around the world helped to deliver the project.
The toolkit was tested during the NGOs’ first restoration training program. Participants contributed suggestions to the toolkit and have helped to cascade these field-tested methodologies, tools, and trained personnel to other areas across the globe.
The new toolkit aims to be a companion for scientists, managers, practitioners and local communities who are facing a coral reef restoration challenge and require guidance.
Source: Seychelles News Agency