Reviving Pujada Bay – corals meet mangroves in The Philippines

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Team Malizia, Zurich Germany, rrreefs, and the Mama Earth Foundation are delighted to announce their partnership to restore coral reefs and mangroves in the Philippines. The partners are connected within the Planet Hero Award which is announced yearly by Zurich Insurance for climate-promoting initiatives as part of the partnership with Team Malizia.

Sharing a common mission to take action for ocean health and against the climate crisis, these partners have already been working together in different capacities geared towards climate action and environmental conservation. Now, they are joining forces, combining their collective expertise and resources for this significant and long-term project aimed at regenerating degraded marine ecosystems in Pujada Bay, Philippines.

The Philippines contain almost 10% of the world’s coral reefs with exceptional biodiversity, but to date, 98% of the country‘s reefs are classified as threatened, with 70% at high or very high risk. On a broader scale, about one third of the world’s mangrove stocks have been destroyed over the past 40 years.

Mangroves and corals essential for coastlines
Coastal ecosystems like mangroves and coral reefs play key roles for our climate and the environment. Mangroves are champions at capturing CO2 and form a buffer against coastal erosion and storm damage, whilst healthy coral reefs can absorb wave energy and are home to nearly a quarter of the oceans’ biodiversity. The regeneration of both ecosystems helps them to better withstand and recover from storms and the effects of climate change.

6000 mangrove seedlings will be planted for this project © Mama Earth Foundation

The new project is set in Pujada Bay, Philippines, where Boris Herrmann’s Team Malizia and the Mama Earth Foundation have been actively involved in restoring the mangrove ecosystem for many years through the creation of the Malizia Mangrove Park. Working in collaboration with the local university and with a mission to provide a better income for local communities, they have already planted over 800,000 mangrove seedlings and aim to reduce CO2 levels by binding large quantities of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. The bay, which has been declared a marine protected area in 1994, is also an ideal location for the restoration of both mangroves and coral reefs together.

This can bring additional benefits for both the mangroves and the reefs. The increased biodiversity of the reefs may help young mangroves store more carbon, and in turn the mangroves may help the regenerated reef by decreasing ambient water temperature and sediment in the water.

Regeneration experiment with control group
For this project, rrreefs will rebuild a damaged coral reef, using their modular system made from 3D-printed clay bricks. The system provides a foundation for corals to grow and fish to thrive, and enables the regrowth of a healthy reef ecosystem without further maintenance. Simultaneously, about 3000 mangroves will be planted in front of the restored reef, and another 3000 mangroves in front of a degraded reef that will not be restored. This experimental approach provides an opportunity to understand the potential benefits of simultaneous restoration of mangroves and coral reefs.

Does rebuilding the reef achieve a higher biodiversity in the mangroves than without the reef, or with a destroyed reef? Can the reef contribute to the mangrove forest absorbing more CO2 than it would otherwise?

Damaged corals reefs will be rebuild using the modular system made from 3D-printed clay brick by rrreefs © rrreefs

In addition to the environmental aspects, the creation of positive social impact plays an important role for the project partners. Academics and students from Davao Oriental State University in Mati are actively involved in all steps of the project, and the teams work with local communities along the coast, as their participation is crucial for the success and long-term sustainability of the restoration efforts.

Team Malizia’s skipper Boris Herrmann commented: “It is amazing to see how our various efforts and partnership network are coming together to rehabilitate two ecosystems that are crucial for our planet. As a sailing team, the Ocean is our home, our workplace but we all depend on the Ocean and it is threatened by climate change. From contributing to scientific research to community building, and to local environmental restoration efforts: This project represents our shared commitment to preserve our Ocean by actively taking action against the climate crisis. It’s a race we must win – and we must work together to achieve this!”

“The ‘Reviving Pujada Bay’ project is an impressive example of the positive impacts that result from the Planet Hero Award. With the Planet Hero Award, we not only honor promising innovative and effective environmental and climate initiatives as part of our sustainability strategy but we have also established a platform for communication, networking and collaboration. The interplay between science, environmental protection and social commitment has the potential to lead the way for other initiatives,” reports Dr. Carsten Schildknecht, CEO of Zurich Germany.



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