Hope Reef: World’s largest coral restoration programme announced

Hope Reef, the start of the world’s largest coral reef restoration programme, has been unveiled off the coast of Sulawesi, Indonesia.

The coral reef, which can be seen on Google Earth, has been regrown to spell the word HOPE to drive awareness of the importance of marine conservation and show how positive change can happen within our lifetime.

Providing a simple but effective solution, Hope Reef uses innovative ‘Reef Star’ technology – 90cm-wide, star-shaped, steel structures that are handmade by the local community in Indonesia. Each star is joined underwater to create a strong web that covers the seabed and provides a stable base for coral fragments to regrow.

Hope Reef is part of an initiative led by cat food brand Sheba and its partner The Nature Conservancy to restore more than 185,000 square metres of coral reefs around the world by 2029 – roughly the size of 148 Olympic Swimming Pools.

Scientists estimate that if the world does nothing, 90% of the world’s tropical reefs will be gone by 2043, impacting nearly 500 million people who depend on them for food, income and coastal protection.

Dr. Elizabeth McLeod, The Nature Conservancy’s Global Reef Systems Lead, said: “Coral reefs are the heart of our oceans, supporting over a quarter of marine life. Reefs also supply millions of people worldwide with food, livelihoods, life-saving medicines, and protection against storms. It’s imperative that we scale up our work to protect and restore the long-term health of these vital ecosystems, as well as addressing the threats that have caused their decline and building their resilience to a changing climate.” 

The restoration of Hope Reef began two years ago. Since then, coral cover has increased from 5 to 55%, fish abundance has increased and the area has seen a return of species such as sharks and turtles.

Since 2008, Sheba’s parent company, Mars Inc., has invested more than $10m in research, restoration and community engagement as part of its coral reef programme.

Viewers who watch the Sheba Hope Reef story, The Film That Grows Coral, on YouTube (click the video above) will help raise money for reef restoration. With every view, the advertising money generated is invested into coral reef restoration through campaign partner, The Nature Conservancy. This is the first time ever that 100% of the funds from a YouTube channel have been monetised for sustainability efforts.

Professor David Smith, Chief Marine Scientist at Mars Inc., said: “We’re thrilled to unveil Hope Reef and show that there really is hope for our oceans. Our efforts around the world to restore and regenerate these precious ecosystems are showing exciting results and having a positive impact on local communities, which we’re delighted to see. We hope our efforts inspire others to join us so we can all play our part in helping to prevent the extinction of our coral reefs.”  

Rosa Medea is Life & Soul Magazine’s Chief. She writes about lifestyle including sustainable and green living. 

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