All-Female DivE Team to work on Coral Reef Restoration with the Sulubaaï FOUNDATION of the Philippines
For Immediate Release
In May 2022, an all-female diving team from Singapore, Australia and Europe will spend a week on Pangatalan island in Palawan, Philippines to work on restoring its coral reef in partnership with the Sulubaaï Foundation. Created in 2012, the Sulubaaï Environmental Foundation is a Philippine-based non-profit organisation dedicated to conserving, protecting and restoring the natural resources of Palawan through environmentally sustainable practices and active ecosystems restoration. The foundation's work is mainly focused on the island of Pangatalan and its surroundings in the Shark Bay region.
The group under the banner of HER Planet Earth, a Singapore-based NGO that promotes female empowerment and environmental conservation will participate in multiple coral grafting dives, which will involve fixing unstable coral fragments on concrete support structures called SRPs (or Sulu-Reef Prostheses) directly or indirectly on strong reef structures using nails and wire.
"The Sulubaaï Foundation is excited to host the team of divers from HER Planet Earth this year. The collaboration provides a unique opportunity for an adventurous group of women from around the world to connect directly with the rich but threatened marine life of Palawan while supporting a model of community-led conservation that delivers tangible and sustainable results", said Frederic Tardieu, Founder of the Sulubaaï Foundation. He added, “We wholeheartedly believe in the power of women to create change, impact a community, a nation and the world - for the better. And we look forward to working closely with our partners, HER Planet Earth on this important conservation initiative.”
In 2016, a 41-hectare Marine Protected Area surrounding the island was established and placed under the responsibility of the foundation - and defined as a “No Take Zone” to improve the resilience of ecosystems such as coral reefs, other marine life and fish stock surrounding the island. Then in 2019, neighbouring villages realised the positive impact on fish biomass and wanted to go a step further, and this is how the idea of the SEA Academy was born.
The SEA Academy focuses on ecosystem preservation, education & training, economic development and scientific research. The core of the project is the creation of three participative marine protected areas managed by the local communities. It will directly benefit the population of the villages of Shark Fin Bay (Palawan, Philippines) and students from Philippine Universities. Over the next three years, the SEA Academy will help decrease illegal fishing practices, and improve the state of the coral reefs while increasing fish population. Its educational program about the marine ecosystems will focus on sustainable management of marine resources. while increasing fish population. Its educational program about the marine ecosystems will focus on sustainable management of marine resources.
HER Planet Earth Founder, Christine Amour-Levar, who is also an Ambassador for the SEA Academy Project shared, "the main objective of the project is to restore the marine biodiversity. The main stake is food security since local populations critically depend on marine resources for their protein income. If we want to build a healthier ecosystem, it is necessary to create conditions for involvement of local actors, to educate younger generations and to enable adults to understand that protection of the sea and its good management is also source of wealth and economy. This is the kind of future we need to move towards."
Island revegetation and water run off
Because of the deforestation of the island before 2011, the island’s soil had been severely damaged and eroded during past rainy seasons. The phenomena was compromising the integrity of the remaining vegetation and impacting the coral reef due to siltation (a process by which water becomes dirty as a result of fine mineral particles infiltrating it). Since 2013, more than 39,000 native flowers, plants and trees have been replanted. Infrastructures have also been built (retention tanks and water-flow moderators) in order to help restore the soil and considerably reduce water run-off from the land. Thanks to the foundation's work, since 2016, the vegetation of the island has returned to a sustainable and healthy level.
The marine protected area includes 2.5 hectares of mangroves ecosystems. Unfortunately, 20% had been destroyed prior to 2011 due to the cutting down of mangrove trees to make charcoal. Mangroves constitute a key ecosystem and are extremely functional. Thus, in order to facilitate their regrowth, the foundation planted 5,000 propagules in a nursery and transplanted around 1,000 plants in May 2016. Today the Sulubaaï team is continuously gardening and taking care of the plants that are thankfully thriving.
A Marine Protected Area
The 41-hectare Marine Protected Area surrounding the island includes a fringing reef (a coral reef that lies close to the shore) and one isolated reef (pinnacle). In total, 12 ecosystems are present in the area and constitute a highly diversified environment. The Marine Protected Area is defined as a “No Take Zone” and aims to improve the resilience of ecosystems such as coral reefs, other marine life and fish stock surrounding the island.
In the past, the area suffered from a massive bleaching event (2010) and was commonly exploited for fishing using dynamite and cyanide. Today, the foundation constantly measures the efficiency of their restoration methods in the Marine Protected Area, by monitoring and surveying the environment and ecosystems using a photo transect method. Photo transects involve taking evenly measured photos of the reef bottom. This not only gives the foundation a permanent record of the reef condition, but it also allows them to do a more detailed analysis after each dive.
Find out more:
About HER Planet Earth:
HER Planet Earth is a global advocacy movement that promotes a deeper connection between women empowerment and the integrity of the environment. The non-profit organisation, which is headquartered in Singapore, aims to inspire more people to become policymakers and agents of change in order to achieve social and economic equity and a healthy and thriving planet. HER Planet Earth organises pioneering and self-funded expeditions around the world to increase awareness of environmental degradation and raise funds for programmes that empower and educate underprivileged women affected by climate change - ultimately helping them build climate resilience.
About The Sulubaaï Foundation:
In 1992, French business developer Fred Tardieu and his wife packed up their belongings and departed from their home, careers and ease of familiarity to pursue what they thought would be a well-earned retirement. Little did they know at the time, their unassuming plunge into adventure would lead them to become trailblazing marine conservationists in the Philippines. Driven by their love for the ocean and eagerness for bettering the world, in 2011 they purchased Pangatalan Island in Palawan and founded the Sulubaaï Environmental Foundation, where they work alongside conservation partners and local community members to restore the island’s unique ecosystems which had been damaged from unsustainable practices in the past. Alongside their partners, in 2017, they established a 45-hectare marine protected area (MPA) surrounding the island – with another MPA double its size currently in the works. Since 2015, the Sulubaaï Foundation team counts full dedicated marine biologists experts who manage the restoration of marine ecosystems in the marine protected area of Pangatalan. The staff counts also 20 members from nearby villages who contribute to the warm hospitality on the island. https://sulubaai-foundation.com
To see pictures of the HER Planet Earth team’s journey, ‘LIKE’ their Facebook page, follow them on Twitter and Instagram: