Groundbreaking pilot presents ‘how to regenerate reefs’ training videos for Pacific Islands

Pacific leaders have identified climate change as the number one security threat facing the Pacific at this time. Coral bleaching as a result of climate change is having a disastrous impact on coral reefs around the world – reefs that are vital for the survival of Pacific Island communities. Alarmingly, the scientific consensus is that without intervention, 90% of coral reefs could be lost within 30 years from thermal stress and local threats.

With funding support from the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) and WWF-Australia through the Climate Resilient by Nature, in August 2022, Kyeema Foundation (Kyeema) teamed up with Corals 4 Conservation (C4C) to train Marine Scientists from Fiji, Papua New Guinea, and Samoa in methods to fight coral reef decline.

As a part of the training, Kyeema and C4C developed training videos to support Pacific Island Nations to set up their own coral regeneration programs and expand the number of marine scientists trained in these methods. The following introductory video, featuring the superb videography of Mike Worsman from GiveMedia, explains why this is so necessary:

In support of scaling this citizen science approach for Pacific community coral reefs the team have put together a training video series on ‘Coral Reef Restoration for Climate Action’:

  1. Constructing Coral Nurseries
  2. Maintaining and Monitoring Coral Nurseries and Outplanting Sites
  3. Outplanting Corals

With this training, communities most impacted by climate change will have access to hands-on tools to enable them to fight coral reef decline due to warming seas in a responsible and proactive way.

Watch part 1 of the 4 part training video on Coral Reef Restoration for Climate Change at our Learning Hub here.  

Kyeema and C4C have provided support, guidance, and seed funding to the trained marine scientists to establish test nursery sites across Fiji, PNG, and Samoa, to gather evidence for the thermotolerance of genotypes and species from inshore hot pocket reefs. These efforts are incredibly timely given the extant threat from soaring water temperatures over the summer of 2022-23.

How Did This Start?

Austin Bowden-Kerby, a Marine Scientist and Director of C4C, has been teaching coral gardening methods in Fiji, across the Pacific, and in the Caribbean for over 30 years. However, with the increasing frequency and intensity of bleaching events, he realised that standard methods of coral gardening were having diminishing returns. Since the mass bleaching events of 2014-16, he has worked with colleagues across the Pacific to develop and trial heat-tolerant coral gardening methods, which have now been documented on video as a training resource for Pacific Island Marine Scientists and community “citizen scientists”.

In order to maintain biodiversity, heat-adapted “super corals” are selected from among the local coral species and used to create heat-tolerant coral nurseries. These nurseries are then used to produce heat-tolerant, bleaching-resistant corals, which are planted into small patches on degraded reefs.  These patches in turn help re-boot natural processes of recovery and adaptation to climate change, attracting incoming coral larvae and spreading heat resilience into the incoming corals, allowing the coral reef to repopulate itself over time, restoring biodiversity while building resilience.

Heat-tolerant corals can both be selected from hot pockets, where they have survived much higher temperatures than corals in cooler waters, or during mass bleaching events. Cuttings from these corals are used to set up biodiverse coral nurseries located in cooler waters, as insurance against extreme temperatures predicted for the coming decades. When these corals are trimmed, the trimmings can be out-planted into even cooler waters, helping ensure the long-term survival of corals into the future, while helping degraded reefs recover naturally.

If you are from the Pacific Islands particularly or interested in learning about implementing this work, please contact us on the details below.



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