Coral reef rehabilitation in Seaflower Biosphere Reserve, Colombia
In the last three decades, live coral cover has declined by more than 50% on the oceanic islands of San Andres and Old Providence, within the Seaflower Biosphere Reserve, due to human activity and high algal dominance. Monitoring surveys of reef restoration projects have shown that large-scale coral gardening can increase coral cover on transplanted sites by 700% over a 4 year period. Corales de Paz then wants to upscale the magnitude of local restoration work from hundreds to thousands of coral fragments over large degraded reef areas at the Seaflower Biosphere Reserve following a participatory approach. Reef users, local community members, local fishermen and hobby divers will all be invited to take part in training schemes and then to help in reef rehabilitation activities, setting up and maintaining coral reef nurseries, transplanting coral colonies to degraded coral reef sites, conducting monitoring surveys, and enforcing protection. By the end of year 2, the nurseries will have a running stock of about 10,000 coral fragments, of which about 30% will have been transplanted to a degraded reef and should result in an immediate 10% increase in live coral cover and fish abundance. For long-term sustainability, a business plan will be developed so that skills can be transferred, results shared and income generating activities for locals implemented. Among these are a Coral Reef Restoration training program, an interactive reef restoration educational centre, a payment for ecosystem services scheme, and an awareness raising campaign and fundraising tailored to tourists and businesses.