Resilient Reefs, Empowered Communities Reef Restoration & Monitoring.
Oceans Without Borders – Reef Restoration & Monitoring
Oceans Without Borders (OWB) is an initiative which strives to catalyse positive change across our ocean footprint, through the care of the ocean, marine wildlife, and people. OWB is a partnership between andBeyond and Africa Foundation, responding to the fact that globally, our oceans are being devastated by human activity.
The coastline of East Africa is one of Africa’s most biologically diverse regions. Africa Foundation and andBeyond, recognize that through andBeyond’s lodge locations, there is a unique capacity to improve the conservation of 3,000km of productive ocean, from Mnemba Island Lodge near Zanzibar to Sodwana Bay, near Phinda Private Game Reserve, South Africa.
- Baselines – Establish infrastructure and knowledge management systems to inform decision making and track progress.
- Care of the ocean – Support the improved effectiveness of marine habitat conservation and the establishment or enlargement of marine protected areas (MPAs), seeking higher conservation status.
- Care of the wildlife – Support the protection of iconic species.
- Care of the people – Work with communities to build authentic, trusted relationships, to facilitate community-led development initiatives, so that communities feel the benefit of marine conservation.
- Global positive impact – Multiply positive impact on oceans globally through the engagement and education of andBeyond guests and collaboration with international initiatives
OWB is implementing numerous social and ecological projects including but not limited to:
- Ecological Monitoring
- Apex Predator Tagging
- Whale and Reef Acoustic Monitoring
- Biodiversity Surveys
- Community Infrastructure Development
- Educational Bursaries
Globally, coral reefs are at risk due to the effects of climate change and increasing human impact and disturbance. The Zanzibar coral reef systems are no exception, especially given the significant increase in Zanzibar tourism and growing demand to snorkel and dive on the Zanzibar reef systems. The science of restoring and establishing new coral reefs is developing rapidly, and several innovative community-based models are emerging that indicate that it is possible to strengthen local community custodianship of coral reefs through coral propagation-based livelihood and tourism projects.
Africa Foundation has been working around Mnemba Island and with the Matemwe, Kigomani, Kijini and Mbuyutende communities for many years. AF embraces a “community led development” philosophy and has been able to support a range of infrastructure projects aimed at improving primary and secondary schooling and primary health care in these communities. Over the past 3 years AF has started building on this community development platform through its regional Oceans Without Borders project, which supports community-based marine conservation work around Zanzibar, and the Vamizi and Bazaruto Island complexes in Mozambique.
The ECHO marine environmental education program has been designed to educate and raise awareness on marine conservation, as well as to instill positive attitude towards the protection of the marine environment. Teaching children from a young age enables the development of positive habits and behaviors towards the environment. Sharing knowledge and building relationships with local fishers and communities surrounding conservation areas is important to ensure sustainable conservation and deep understanding of the benefits that come with conservation.
This project aims to support the restoration and community-based conservation of the coral reefs associated with Mnemba Island and the north-eastern corner of Zanzibar, through the establishment of a community coral nursery program to support the restoration of the heavily impacted coral reefs adjacent to Mnemba Island. The project will build on experience from throughout the region, including the well-known Jambiani coral restoration project on the south-east corner of Zanzibar. The ECHO program aims to develop environmentally-conscious communities who are informed to make decisions.
- Build underwater nurseries in trial locations to propagate coral fragments.
- Survey reefs and analyze underwater images to quantify coral recovery or decline.
- Offer staff training in reef restoration and capacity building in communities.
- Offer capacity development, including open water dive training for marine field rangers.
- Develop marine environmental education material targeting fishers and school children.
- Distribute posters to generate awareness on conservation regulations and benefits in local communities.
- Offer conservation lessons for fishers and school groups within communities to increase the knowledge of environmental issues and climate change impacts locally.
- Track impact success of educational interventions through community polling via direct engagement and digital media platforms.
Mnemba Island is a small private island located 4.5 kilometers off the north-eastern coast of Unguja Island and opposite Muyuni Beach. The island is part of the Zanzibar Archipelago in the Western Indian Ocean. The low-lying island has a circumference of 1.5 kilometers and an approximate area of 11 hectares, with a highly dynamic beach profile composed of fine-grained sand. The Mnemba Island Marine Conservation Area (MIMCA) prohibits fishing within 200 meters of the island to protect a variety of endangered species, such as Aders’ duikers, green sea turtles, suni antelope, coconut crabs. The House Reef is located on the north-western shore of the island with an estimated area of 0.25 square kilometers, 7 meters deep and a variety of coral reef fish species.
Oceans Without Borders is working with local authorities and stakeholders to expand the perimeter of the conservation area, and to develop mechanisms for reducing the boat and snorkeling pressure on Mnemba Island’s reefs. Reducing this pressure on the reefs is the first step to allow them to begin recovering, which will then be supported by the active coral restoration process proposed for this project that incorporates local capacity building to support sustainable coral reef conservation.
The initial phase of the reef restoration project will assess a feasible nursery site and identify donor coral species for a small-scale coral gardening pilot study. The nursery design will determine the drivers of coral degradation at each site to ensure management strategies in place support propagation of coral and easy natural growth of corals. An important phase of this project is community involvement and training to transfer knowledge and skills on coral reef restoration for site stewardship and sustainable long-term reef conservation. Field marine rangers will be trained in marine survey and skills and receive open water dive training to support monitoring and maintenance of the project.
Routine monitoring visits to the coral nurseries to analyze recovery of coral will include:
• Quantifying survival of all coral colonies
• Assessing the condition of the coral nursery frames
• Cleaning of coral nurseries (ropes, tables, frames, attachments, floats and signs)
• Installing or repairing research signs
• Establishing repeat photo-point monitoring stations for each nursery
Equipment and resources required for the component include access to satellite imagery and image processing software, use of a data hard-drives, underwater cameras, nursery maintenance materials, marine adhesives (measuring tapes, slates, etc).
The ECHO program will develop a marine environmental education material targeted at local fishers and school children and the conservation lessons will use local examples that the community can relate to.