Restoring marine ecosystem services by restoring coral reefs to meet a changing climate future

Project Overview

The Governments of Mauritius and Seychelles, two small island developing states off the coast of Africa, have accessed a new US$10 million grant from the Adaptation Fund to restore their reef ecosystems. The new six-year project, supported through the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), will protect the island nation’s growing tourism industries – which account for over 30 percent of national GDP and employ approximately half the population in both countries – at the same time ensuring food security for fishers who depend on the reefs to feed their families, and reducing risks from high-intensity storms.

The "Restoring marine ecosystem services by restoring coral reefs to meet a changing climate future" project will develop sustainable partnerships and community-based, business-driven approaches for reef restoration, establish coral farming and nursery facilities, and actively restore degraded reefs. On a regional and global level, the project will improve understanding on how to use coral reef restoration as a tool for climate change adaptation, provide models for sustainable management of reef ecosystems, and build capacity for long-term restoration and management of these precious habitants.

As with the rest of the world – as the result of human-induced climate change, pollution and other environmental impacts – Mauritius has lost its live coral at a highly accelerated rate over the past few decades with as much as 70 percent reduction in live coral cover from 1997 to 2007. In Seychelles, coral cover declined 50 to 90 percent over the last two decades.

Mauritius

Mauritius has taken on international acclaim as a diving and beach destination in recent years. Coastal zone activities, especially tourism, account for 36 percent of GDP in Mauritius, generating US$4.3 billion here each year. According to UNDP, beaches in Mauritius have shrunk by as much as 20 meters over the last few decades due to higher seas and weakened coral ecosystems. The government indicates the connected loss of tourism to the beaches here could cost over US$100 million per year by 2060 if nothing is done. The new project will restore reef habitats in Blue Bay Marine Park, which features a new park center, and research and education facilities, and the South East Marine Protected Area, located off the coast of Rodrigues.

Seychelles

Over 300,000 visitors come to Seychelles every year to explore the beaches and pristine waters. The tourism industry now accounts for 46 percent of the nation’s GDP, about US$600 million per year, with over half the nation employed in tourism. Chronic coastal erosion from increased demand for construction along the coasts, poorly planned coastal flooding that results in regular flooding, destruction of marine and coastal impacts, overfishing and other impacts have taken their toll on the nation’s marine ecosystems. Through the project, coral reef restoration works will be launched at Curieuse Marine National Park, Cousin Special Reserve, Saint Anne Marine National Park and Anse Forbans in the waters off Seychelles.

*The designations employed and the presentation of material on this map do not imply the expression of any opinion whatsoever on the part of the Secretariat of the United Nations or UNDP concerning the legal status of any country, territory, city or area or its authorities, or concerning the delimitation of its frontiers or boundaries.

Expected Outcomes

Component 1 - Enhancement of food security and reduction of risks from natural disasters through the restoration of degraded reefs in Mauritius.

Component 2 - Enhancement of food security and reduction of risks from natural disasters through the restoration of degraded reefs in Seychelles.

Component 3 - Knowledge management and sharing, training and sensitization to build regional capacity for sustainable reef restoration.

Project Details

Levels of Intervention

Regional

Source of Funds

Adaptation Fund

Key Implementers

Country Office
National Governments
Private Sector Partners
United Nations Development Programme (UNDP)

Funding Amounts

US$10 million

Project Partners

United Nations Development Programme (UNDP)
Ministry of Environment and Energy, Government of Seychelles
Mauritius Ministry of Ocean Economy, Marine Resources, Fisheries, and Shipping

Introduction

The Governments of Mauritius and Seychelles, two small island developing states off the coast of Africa, have accessed a new US$10 million grant from the Adaptation Fund to restore their reef ecosystems. The new six-year project, supported through the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), will protect the island nation’s growing tourism industries – which account for over 30 percent of national GDP and employ approximately half the population in both countries – at the same time ensuring food security for fishers who depend on the reefs to feed their families, and reducing risks from high-intensity storms.

The "Restoring marine ecosystem services by restoring coral reefs to meet a changing climate future" project will develop sustainable partnerships and community-based, business-driven approaches for reef restoration, establish coral farming and nursery facilities, and actively restore degraded reefs. On a regional and global level, the project will improve understanding on how to use coral reef restoration as a tool for climate change adaptation, provide models for sustainable management of reef ecosystems, and build capacity for long-term restoration and management of these precious habitants.

As with the rest of the world – as the result of human-induced climate change, pollution and other environmental impacts – Mauritius has lost its live coral at a highly accelerated rate over the past few decades with as much as 70 percent reduction in live coral cover from 1997 to 2007. In Seychelles, coral cover declined 50 to 90 percent over the last two decades.

Mauritius

Mauritius has taken on international acclaim as a diving and beach destination in recent years. Coastal zone activities, especially tourism, account for 36 percent of GDP in Mauritius, generating US$4.3 billion here each year. According to UNDP, beaches in Mauritius have shrunk by as much as 20 meters over the last few decades due to higher seas and weakened coral ecosystems. The government indicates the connected loss of tourism to the beaches here could cost over US$100 million per year by 2060 if nothing is done. The new project will restore reef habitats in Blue Bay Marine Park, which features a new park center, and research and education facilities, and the South East Marine Protected Area, located off the coast of Rodrigues.

Seychelles

Over 300,000 visitors come to Seychelles every year to explore the beaches and pristine waters. The tourism industry now accounts for 46 percent of the nation’s GDP, about US$600 million per year, with over half the nation employed in tourism. Chronic coastal erosion from increased demand for construction along the coasts, poorly planned coastal flooding that results in regular flooding, destruction of marine and coastal impacts, overfishing and other impacts have taken their toll on the nation’s marine ecosystems. Through the project, coral reef restoration works will be launched at Curieuse Marine National Park, Cousin Special Reserve, Saint Anne Marine National Park and Anse Forbans in the waters off Seychelles.

Project Details

Climate change has intensified coral bleaching events and mortality in Mauritius and Seychelles over recent decades. Climate change projections predict that global coral bleaching events will increase in frequency and intensity. Therefore, to reduce the adverse impact of climate change on local communities and coral reef-dependent economic sectors in Mauritius and Seychelles, the proposed project will increase climate resilience at both regional and local levels by implementing coral reef restoration with thermal tolerant corals as adaptation to climate change. The proposed project objective will be achieved through the following outcomes: in Mauritius i) development of a sustainable partnership and community based approach to reef restoration, ii) establishment of coral farming and nursery facilities, iii) active restoration of degraded reefs; in Seychelles, iv) development of a sustainable partnership and business approach to reef restoration, v) establishment of coral farming and nursery facilities, vi) active restoration of degraded reefs; in both countries vii) improved understanding and knowledge management of using coral reef restoration as an adaptation to climate change viii) sharing regionally and globally the experienced learned in sustainable coral reef restoration, and ix) training to build capacity for long-term sustainable coral reef restoration.

According to the United Nations, at least 500 million people worldwide rely on coral reefs for food, coastal protection and livelihoods. UN estimates put the value of reef ecosystems at US$36 billion per year for tourism alone. They are also an essential ecosystem, protecting 25 percent of known marine species and protecting coastal communities from storm surges, rising seas and high-intensity weather events like cyclones.

According to the new UN climate report, hotter and more acidic waters resulting from carbon pollution are killing off the world’s reefs at an alarming rate. With a temperature rise of just 1.5°C, the world will lose about 80 percent of coral reefs, while rises above 2°C will kill off virtually all of the world’s coral reefs.

 

Climate-Related Hazards Addressed: 
Level of Intervention: 
Primary Beneficiaries: 
81,326 Direct and Indirect Beneficiaries
Implementing Agencies & Partnering Organizations: 
United Nations Development Programme (UNDP)
Ministry of Environment and Energy, Government of Seychelles
Mauritius Ministry of Ocean Economy, Marine Resources, Fisheries, and Shipping
Project Status: 
Source of Funds Approval/Endorsement
Location: 
Urban
Funding Source: 
Financing Amount: 
US$10 million

Key Results and Outputs

Component 1 - Enhancement of food security and reduction of risks from natural disasters through the restoration of degraded reefs in Mauritius.

Outcome 1.1: Improved livelihood for a sustainable partnership and community-based approach to reef restoration.

Output 1.1.1:  Coastal communities benefit from improved livelihoods through employment establishing and maintaining coral nurseries and transplantation sites.

Output 1.1.2: Coastal communities benefit from improved livelihoods through increased revenue from alternative work including tourism (glass bottom boat tours, snorkelling and diving trips).

Outcome 1.2: Coral farming and nursery facilities established at a sufficient scale for more climate change resilient corals.

Output 1.2.1: Donor coral colonies of appropriate species (resilience, maintaining genetic diversity) available at sufficient scale (quantity, time, intervals etc.) for propagation in nurseries.

Output 1.2.2: Reports on coral reef status, water quality, and other key environmental and social parameters for potential nursery sites.

Output 1.2.3: A land-based nursery and 2 or more ocean nurseries established and maintained on a regular basis.

Output 1.2.4: Stock of farmed corals available for transplantation.

Outcome 1.3: The health of degraded reefs restored, through active restoration work, maintenance and monitoring efforts, leading ultimately to greater protection of shore from flooding and storm damage

Output 1.3.1: Rugosity and structure of reefs restored, leading ultimately to greater protection of shore from erosion.

Output 1.3.2: Recovery of fish population and other reef associated fauna and flora, leading ultimately to improved food security in Mauritius and Rodrigues.

Component 2 - Enhancement of food security and reduction of risks from natural disasters through the restoration of degraded reefs in Seychelles.

Outcome 2.1: Improved livelihood for a sustainable partnership to coral reef restoration

Output 2.1.1: Coastal communities benefit from improved livelihoods through employment establishing and maintaining coral nurseries and transplantation sites.

Output 2.1.2: Coastal communities benefit from improved livelihoods through increased revenue from alternative work including tourism (glass bottom boat tours, snorkelling and diving trips)

Outcome 2.2: Coral farming and nursery facilities established at a sufficient scale for more climate change resilient corals.

Output 2.2.1: Donor coral colonies of appropriate species (resilience, maintaining genetic diversity) available at sufficient scale (quantity, time, intervals etc.) for propagation in nurseries

Output 2.2.2: Reports on coral reef status, water quality, and other key environmental and social parameters for potential nursery sites

Output 2.2.3: A land-based nursery established, and 2 or more ocean nurseries are established and maintained on a regular basis

Output 2.2.4: Stock of farmed corals available for transplantation

Outcome 2.3: The health of degraded reefs restored, through active restoration work, maintenance and monitoring efforts, leading ultimately to greater protection of shore from flooding and storm damage

Output 2.3.1: Rugosity and structure of reefs restored, leading ultimately to greater protection of shore from erosion

Output 2.3.2: Recovery of fish population and other reef associated fauna and flora, leading ultimately to improved food security in Seychelles

Component 3 - Knowledge management and sharing, training and sensitization to build regional capacity for sustainable reef restoration.

Outcome 3.1:Improved understanding and knowledge management of use of reef restoration as an adaptation measure

Output 3.1.1: Comparative review and analysis of coral restoration initiatives in the region and globally, with gaps in knowledge identified

Output 3.1.2: Based on past and ongoing coral restorations efforts undertaken by the project and others, science-based best practice and methodologies (e.g. factors determining success in coral restoration are known; cost-effective approaches, etc.) developed, constraints and challenges identified, and lessons learned documented.

Output 3.1.3: Research undertaken to provide information to guide restoration and enhance reef resilience where required (e.g. genetic connectivity of coral species, spawning seasons and coral recruitment patterns, resistant/ resilient species and clades)

Outcome 3.2: Improved understanding within the WIO and globally of successful approaches to reef restoration, the constraints and challenges, with lessons learned incorporated into new initiatives

Output 3.2.1: Lessons learned in reef restoration documented and shared

Output 3.2.2: Reef Restoration tool kit and manual for use in the WIO published and disseminated

Outcome 3.3: Regional capacity developed for sustainable and climate resilient coral restoration

Output 3.3.1: Regional training workshops undertaken on monitoring, DNA-based approach for the identification of resilient corals, and other topics as appropriate.

Output 3.3.2: Sustainable long-term monitoring programme developed and underway for restored reefs, based on international/regional protocols and best practice.

Outcome 3.4: Monitoring and Evaluation