All-Female Diving Team to work on Coral Reef Restoration with the Sulubaaï FOUNDATION of the PhilippinesRead Now
For Immediate Release
September 26, 2019 - In May 2020, an all-female diving team from around the world will spend a weekend on Pangatalan island in Palawan, Philippines to work on restoring the 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 SRP modules were originally designed in 2016 to support coral cuttings and increase the natural resilience of the coral reefs surrounding Pangatalan Island. The SRPs provide a new habitat for marine flora and fauna. They are made of reinforced concrete and manufactured on the island. Any type of coral can be fixed on the SRPs, without any plastic or chemical compounds. SRPs also allow natural recruitment of corals. Surveys on the SRPs show a survival rate of 76.6% and an attachment rate of 70.9% amongst the coral fragments fixed within the first year. The team will be working alongside other Filipino women from the surrounding islands to graft coral and help restore the Pangatalan island reef.
"The Sulubaaï Foundation is excited to host the team of divers from HER Planet Earth in May 2020. 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.”
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
In 2016, a 41-hectare Marine Protected Area surrounding the island was established and placed under the responsibility of the foundation. The area 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.
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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 change resilience. Over the last few years, the organisation has taken all-female teams sailing to remote islands in the Philippines, climbing in Antarctica, exploring the largest caves in the world in Vietnam, and trekking across glaciers and volcanos in Iceland - all in an effort to raise awareness and funds for these key initiatives.
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: