Celebrating the Restoration of Coral Reefs in Costa Rica:

Photo credits: Somos Pelagos

Costa Rica’s Pacific Coral Reefs were planted with hundreds of fresh corals this month, as part of Coralmania, with the aim of highlighting restoring coral reefs as a positive way to improve their natural state.

Coral reefs have been severely degraded by threats such as unsustainable fishing practices and climate change. Restoration of coral reefs aims to speed up the natural process of reef recovery and, at the same time, enable people to nourish corals and other reef organisms and restore their own relationship with nature.

Reef restoration is similar to reforestation, but instead of cultivating and planting trees, it is the corals – which are animals rather than plants – that are cultivated and “planted” on the reefs. Most projects grow corals in underwater nurseries, but some use land based facilities.

Several coral reef restoration projects have been set up in Costa Rica, and this month they participated in Coralmania as part of an international effort between Costa Rica, Honduras and the Dominican Republic to bring in volunteers. to their plans to mass plant corals on local reefs.

Coralmania is organized and funded by the German Development Cooperation, GIZ, with donations and the participation of many organizations. In recent weeks in Costa Rica, Coralmania events have taken place in Bahia Culebra by Peninsula Papagayo and the University of Costa Rica, and in Golfo Dulce by Raising Coral Costa Rica. During the remainder of the week, a third event in Costa Rica is planned in Samara (Asociación Proyecto Corales) as well as events in Honduras and the Dominican Republic.

I participated with our Raising Coral Costa Rica (RCCR) team at Golfo Dulce. It was an opportunity to celebrate a year of working with the local community to develop a sustainable model of reef restoration, which was funded by a Fundecooperación and the UN Adapta2 program to support adaptation to the adverse effects of climate change.

The event allowed RCCR’s “coral gardeners” – local people trained in coral propagation and restoration – to practice their skills and guide the effort. Many local businesses and government officials also attended, including Alcalde Freiner Lara, Mayor of the Township of Golfito.

RCCR maintains a 1600’s coral nursery near Golfito where small coral fragments from eight coral species are allowed to grow for 6 to 12 months. The most abundant coral in the nursery is the branched coral Pocillopora. This type of coral is no longer common in Golfo Dulce, and much of the RCCR’s effort has focused on developing methods to increase its population size.

For Coralmania, nearly 300 Pocillopora the colonies were collected from the nursery and transported to three restoration sites. The plantation was carried out by 24 volunteer divers with the support of 11 additional divers. Care was taken to keep track of colonies based on the “donor coral” from which the fragments were recovered. This allows us to observe which corals are the most resilient, as well as organize the corals to encourage colony growth rather than competition.

These transplanting events can be difficult. Carrying a heavy crate of live corals to the boat is arduous, and planting corals without damaging them can be tricky, especially when there are currents. But the new corals bring instant gratification to the people who plant them and initiate the salvage of a damaged reef.

Reef restoration is not a cure for the current coral reef crisis, but when done strategically, it can establish reef patches with corals that will continue to reproduce naturally, producing more resilient offspring. to climate change and support the many other species that depend on it. on them. One of these species is us (Homo sapiens)!

This is, in essence, the concept of the current “Decade of Ecosystem Restoration” proclaimed by the United Nations Environment Program. Costa Rica is well positioned to be a leader in coral reef restoration, just as it has done in forest restoration and conservation for which it recently received the prestigious Earthshot Award.

More information can be found at http://coralmania.org and https://raisingcoral.org.

The United Nations Decade for Ecosystem Restoration: https://www.decadeonrestoration.org/

Joanie Kleypas is a scientist who studies marine ecosystems and climate change. She is also the director of Raising Coral Costa Rica.

Photo credits: Somos Pelagos (https://www.instagram.com/somospelagos)

Previous Arunachal reviews drug abuse and detox strategy
Next Review: Planning lines are a threat to active strategy