snpa seychelles

Dr Levy introduced the representatives to the reef gardening concept that will be used to restore coral reefs on two sites on Praslin and Cousin Island special reserve.

Although there are a number of techniques being used globally to re-grow corals, this model has been selected for its simplicity and cost effectiveness. It is called gardening due to its similarity to crop growing.

During the first stage, he explained, coral nurseries will be established in sheltered areas away from human and natural impacts. They will be given the best conditions possible to help high growth rates and survivorship.

In the second stage, corals that have grown to a certain size will be transferred from the nursery and transplanted in pre-selected sites that give them a high chance of survival and in similar conditions as where they originated from. As they are nurtured, the corals then dominate and take over a reef although survival is highly dependent on site selection.

Sites are usually selected based on the long-term goal of the restoration, be it to restore the ecosystem such as on Cousin or for tourism purposes. They are also selected for their stability – the granitic reefs are more stable than carbonate reefs and recent studies have shown that there is more success on granitic reefs.

Successful re-colonisation of the sites will depend on what is stressing corals at the moment. Suitable sites are best located away from activities that would have a direct impact on this such as pollution or reduction of light by turbidity and siltation. Although we have areas with naturally occurring macro algae, after the bleaching occurred, algae took over large areas of the dead reefs and this would have to be partly removed in the sites.

Representatives at the workshop said they were keen to be involved in the project. It is also expected that the practices, results and lessons learned will be disseminated in Seychelles and the region by preparing a business model.