The Coral Reef Alliance

Healthy coral reefs are some of the most diverse and valuable ecosystems on the planet. Nearly a billion people live near coral reefs, with many relying on reefs for food, coastal protection from storms and erosion, and income from fishing, recreation, and tourism*. At a global scale, coral reefs have enormous intrinsic value as the ocean's richest biodiversity hotspot. In addition, coral reef biodiversity is increasingly becoming a primary source for the biological compounds used to develop new medicines. Yet coral reefs also represent one of the most imperiled biomes on the planet. An estimated 60 percent of the world's reefs are under immediate and direct threat from local activities suc...
Dec 6, 2011

CORAL: Developing Sustainable Businesses in Mexico

SMR Participants from Puerto Morelos
SMR Participants from Puerto Morelos

In our last report, we shared information about the work our CORAL Reef Leaders are doing in Hawaii. In Mexico, these critical volunteers are actively working with local businesses to increase their environmental sustainability.

Over the last couple of years, CORAL, with the help of our Leaders, has educated nearly all of the marine tourism operators on the island of Cozumel—that's over 700 individuals! Now, we’re stepping up our efforts on the mainland. We’ve trained five new Leaders in the Cancun area, and they are already leading sustainable marine recreation workshops in key locations like Puerto Morelos, a dive destination just south of Cancun.

Stakeholders in Puerto Morelos, some of whom are pictured in the accompanying photo, have welcomed CORAL’s help to improve their sustainability. We have already reached more than fifty of the two hundred tour guides who work in the town’s national marine park, and we plan to educate the remaining guides about sustainable marine recreation practices in the next few months.

Why is this important for coral reefs? In March of 2011, President Felipe Calderón announced official plans to drive an additional twenty-five million tourists to Mexico over the next seven years. As one of the country’s most important tourism draws, the Mesoamerican Barrier Reef off the coast of Mexico will face significant impacts from this edict—especially because tourism is already cited as one of the top contributors to poor reef health in the area. Ironically, the push to expand tourism could degrade the very attraction that tourists come to experience.

By working with tourism operators, we are helping to ensure that these visitors have a much reduced impact on the ecosystem and that Mexico's reefs—and the communities that depend on them for their livelihoods—thrive for generations to come.

Thank you for your support of our work in Mexico, and in other locations around the world. And best "fishes" from all of us at CORAL for a wonderful holiday season.

Links:

Sep 8, 2011

What Does a CRLN Leader Do for Coral Reefs?

Kahekili sign dedication
Kahekili sign dedication

The Coral Reef Alliance's success in its project sites around the world is built on a strong network of community members, including our CORAL Reef Leadership Network (CRLN).

By training a network of qualified local CORAL Reef Leaders to conduct and sustain educational outreach and disseminate best practices, CORAL is in essence "training the trainers." The CRLN identifies and recruits respected and motivated local leaders in the marine community so members have the credibility and background knowledge necessary to inspire trust. The leaders' presence on site ensures continuity in an industry known for high turnover and serves as a touchstone on coral conservation in the region.

Training provides leaders with the knowledge and skills to effectively convey CORAL’s educational curriculum about reef conservation, resource management, and sustainable tourism practices to marine recreation providers. Under the guidance of CORAL's field staff and with a stipend to sponsor their efforts, CORAL Reef Leaders are empowered to teach CORAL’s Sustainable Marine Recreation workshops and conduct collaborative outreach in their local region.

In Hawaii, our CORAL Reef Leaders have been also directly educating tourists and encouraging them to follow best practices. They are doing this through our reef etiquette signs. By finding locations for the signs and working with local businesses and communities to install them, our leaders are reducing tourism impact on nearshore reefs. As of September 1, 2011, forty-three signs have been installed over three islands, with five more pending installation. You can find a full list of signs and locations at http://www.coral.org/hawaii_reef_signs. And if you happen to be traveling to Hawaii, please visit one of the signs to see your donations at work.

Thanks to your support, we are able to ensure the continued growth of this important program. Mahalo!

Reef etiquette sign on Kauai
Reef etiquette sign on Kauai

Links:

Jun 15, 2011

The Mangroves Are Growing!

Growing mangrove
Growing mangrove

When we updated you on our mangrove replanting effort in Belize last March, we had just finished planting over 100 mangrove seedlings in several high priority areas of San Pedro.  We have been monitoring the sites since then and are pleased to report that at one of the sites, 39 encasements were set up and 39 now have healthy and growing mangroves; that's a 100% success rate during one of the more challenging times in development.  One of the other sites had 17 encasements set up, but due to "fill" (dirt piled up by the property owners to block waves), 2 of the mangroves have been damaged.  We are currently working to fix this issue.

We know that it could be years before we know the ultimate success of this endeavor, but we are grateful for your support that has given us the resources to even get this far.  Thank you!

Silhouette of a mangrove in its protective tube
Silhouette of a mangrove in its protective tube
Mangrove growth comparison
Mangrove growth comparison
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