CASTRIES, St. Lucia, April 3, 2019 – The German International Cooperation (GIZ) in partnership with the Caribbean Public Health Agency (CARPHA) is providing support for a major coral restoration project in Soufriere, St. Lucia. The aim of this project will be to restore populations of Elkhorn (Acropora palmata) and Staghorn (Acropora cervicornis) corals at sites inside the marine managed area to accelerate the recovery of these important ecosystems that sustain livelihoods in tourism and fisheries for St. Lucia. The current focus will be to establish a sustainable recovery plan for these critically important fast-growing branching corals.
The project is being implemented through the CLEAR Caribbean and the Sandals Foundation of St. Lucia and is a scale up of a pilot coral restoration project (CORELLO Project) which began in 2017 with the Sandals Foundation and the Caribbean Development Bank working in close collaboration with the Department for Fisheries and the Soufriere Marine Management Association (SMMA).
The launch of phase II of this project entitled: “The Public-Private Partnership for the Saint Lucia Coral Restoration Programme for Resilient Ecosystems and Sustainable Livelihoods” took place on Wednesday March 13th at the Sandals Foundation Dive Center in Castries. Addressing the audience at the launch event, Lyndon Robertson, Head of the Environmental Health and Sustainable Development Department, CARPHA, explained the link between environmental health and protecting human life. He highlighted that the CATS Programme, implemented jointly between GIZ and CARPHA, was delighted to formalize a vibrant Public-Private Partnership with CLEAR Caribbean and the Sandals Foundation as a model for tackling environmental restoration programmes and ecosystem based adaptation efforts, disaster risk management and the creation of sustainable livelihood initiatives that supports natural resource management. He described the value of this Public-Private Partnership as ensuring sustainability for interventions beyond the lifespan of the project. This approach has the benefit of engaging local partners usually with livelihood outcomes.
Once implemented, the project is expected to provide technical vocational training to fishers, equipment for key stakeholders including dive shops and fishers, to encourage local ownership and sustainability. The project will be developed as an activity that tourist and recreational divers can actively engage in with the goal to generate income and financial viability over the life of the project.
Phase one of the project focused on the establishment of coral nursery structures in the Soufriere Marine Management Area (SMMA) where more than 2,000 fragments of Elkhorn and Staghorn coral were propagated and grown. Phase two will focus on the establishment of additional nurseries, training and outplanting to selected sites within the MMA. A water quality monitoring programme will also form part of this collaboration.
WHY IS CORAL RESTORATION IMPORTANT?
Coral reefs are commonly held in awe for being beautiful underwater fixtures that make the ocean more colourful and vibrant. However, their role in the marine environment is much more profound. Widely known as “rainforests of the sea” coral reefs are integral to the survival of many species of marine life
providing habitats and nurseries to approximately 25% of the ocean’s fish and other organisms.
Established coral reefs serve as natural barriers against wave action. The branching species are noted for dissipating wave energy and for protecting vulnerable shorelines. In a 2014 study entitled “The effectiveness of coral reefs for coastal hazard risk reduction and adaptation” the authors write that “Coral reefs provide substantial protection against natural hazards by reducing wave energy by an average of 97%” (Ferrario et al.). Coral reefs also contribute immensely to biodiversity and ecosystem resilience which is critical to climate change adaptation in the region.
Despite these benefits, the health of coral reef systems around the world and in the Caribbean are in a decline. Globally, there has been a 40% loss of corals reef systems in the last 30 years. In the Caribbean region by contrast, which was 9% of the world’s reefs, at present only supports about one-sixth of its original coral cover. This is alarming and the impacts of climate change, water pollution, overfishing, sedimentation and disease further threaten the survival of many coral species. In the 1980s for example, White band disease killed over 95% of the Caribbean’s Elkhorn and Staghorn coral colonies.
The loss of coral reef systems also has serious economic implications for Caribbean economies. The sustainability of coastal fisheries and tourism is highly dependent on the intactness of these reef systems. Human assisted out-planting will serve to promote sexual reproduction and biodiversity of the regions reef systems which is one of the main goals of the restoration programme.
As a result, the overall aim of The Public-Private Partnership in Coral Restoration Programme for Resilient Ecosystems and Sustainable Livelihoods project is to promote an ecosystem based adaptation approach to addressing resource management and climate change in St Lucia with an element of sustainable livelihood embedded in these efforts.
For more information contact:
Phone: 758 452 2501