Ewout Knoester, Phd Marine Animal Ecologist, project leader
'In 2015 we started exploring possibilities for coral restoration in Kenya. More specifically in the area of Shimoni village near the Tanzanian border. Communities in this area mostly depend on tourism and fisheries. '
Guido Paap, Volunteer Education and Marine Conservation
"At REEFolution Kenya I help to create artificial reefs, teach participants to dive and educate local communities about the importance of healthy reefs by developing promotional materials, presentations and a VR-experience.
Yatin, Project Manager, Dive Instructor
"I have been a dive instructor for many years and I'm currently project manager on the compound. It's fun having the researchers around and it's amazing to see the impact of our project here."
For many years, this area was damaged by dynamite fishing practices of mostly Tanzanian fishermen. Since the 1980s, Kenya has been more successful in patrolling and protecting the nearby Kisite-Mpunguti marine reserve but the damage from dynamite fishing and anchoring is still visible as coral rubble. Natural recovery will take many decades. Tourism, biodiversity and seafood stocks depend on healthy coral reefs, therefore we give nature a helping hand and kick-start coral reef restoration.
What we do
In short; we collect broken pieces of coral that are still healthy but will not survive when left in the sand. We call them 'corals of opportunity'. These pieces are placed in coral nurseries where they grow under optimal conditions to a suitable size for outplacement.
Once corals are large enough we attach them to new reef units or directly plug them into the rubble areas. With a cement plug they are stabilized in the rubble area and new coral reef can grow out of there. Alternatively, we kickstart reef development by providing surface for corals and habitat for accompanying animals such as herbivorous fish and sea urchins. These animals keep the reef free of fast growing, smothering algae.
Last but not least we cooperate with universities and local communities for research on coral reefs, to negotiate no-take zones and to educate school children and other people that were not aware of the natural richness under water.
m² Reef Restored
Together with local communities we aim to protect and restore coral reefs. Healthy reefs create opportunities for livelihood improvement for those who depend on reefs for fishery and tourism.
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We grow corals in structures that are called 'Nurseries'. When the corals are big enough, they are placed upon bottle reefs or in patches of degraded coral reefs. This will give natural reef-formation the kickstart it needs to recover.
Preventing damage on coral reefs always outweighs reef restoration. It is therefore crucial that people are aware of the importance and fragility of coral reefs.
To apply the best reef restoration practices, it is crucial to understand the ecosystem. Research performed by Wageningen University and Kenyatta University is important to optimize our methods and monitor the the restauration results and reef health. This knowledge can also be used in other places in the world!