19 Feb Coral Restoration Demonstration Site Aims to Rehabilitate Damaged Reefs in the Nusa Penida Marine Protected Area

From January 29th to February 2nd, 2024, we successfully conducted the Coral Restoration Demonstration Site in Nusa Penida Marine Protected Area (MPA), specifically in Toya Pakeh to the east of the Quicksilver Mega Pontoon. These activities were conducted in collaboration with local partners and resulted in the installation of 400 Reef Stars, comprising 6,000 coral fragments covering an area of 240 square meters. Our local partners included the Marine and Fisheries Affairs of Bali Province (UPTD KKP Bali), Nusa Penida’s MPA Management Unit (UPT KK), Quicksilver Cruise Bali, SMA 1 Nusa Penida, as well as local dive operators such as Dune Penida, Sanctum Dive Indonesia, and Two Fish Penida.

Over the last several years, reefs along the Toya Pakeh area have suffered from widespread coral breakage caused by strong waves, disease, coral bleaching, and other human activities. An ecological assessment conducted by CTC in 2023 found that despite the damage, it is an ideal site for restoration as healthy corals that can be used for restoration are abundant in the vicinity and accessible through diving or swimming. Herbivore fish, including parrotfish, surgeonfish, and tang, were identified during the survey, indicating a healthy marine ecosystem that is anticipated to support high survival rates of the newly transplanted corals. 

CTC’s Marine Conservation Adviser Marthen Welly explained that Toya Pakeh was chosen as the Coral Reef Restoration Demonstration site as it is ideal for restoration efforts. “With depths ranging from 3-4 meters, it is conveniently situated near the beach, providing easy access to nearby facilities. Additionally, the Quicksilver Mega Pontoon not only serves as a base for restoration but also provides an opportunity for public-private partnership and facilitates outreach, learning activities, and features a dedicated coral tying station,” he said. 

This strategic initiative ensures local ownership, fostering a sustainable restoration site that effectively restores ecosystem function and resilience. Recognized as a Mission Blue Hope Spot, the Nusa Penida MPA holds the potential to inspire a diverse audience, highlighting how collaborative efforts involving communities, NGOs, governments, and the private sector can effectively manage marine protected areas while implementing science-based coral restoration practices. 

Nengah Sugiarta, the Head of Marine and Fisheries Affairs of Bali Province (UPTD KKP Bali), supports this coral reef restoration activity. According to him, coral reefs need to be conserved because they serve as homes for various types of marine species. He also reminded us about human activities that can pose threats to coral reefs such as plastic waste and dropping anchors which can damage coral reefs. Yusuf, Toya Pekeh’s local community representative, also agrees that the increasing activities in the sea can increase threats to coral reefs.

Marthen Welly also noted that to ensure restoration will be effective and sustainable, CTC and team will follow coral transplantation best practice guidelines and methods. “We use the Mars Assisted Reef Restoration System or MARRS method at this site. The transplantation method has a Reef Star or spider web structure which makes it more stable and well-connected,” he said. The MARRS method, he noted, has been effective in increasing the number of natural coral recruits in Bali and Indonesia. On the other hand, it is also an easy method to use and enables the corals to grow faster allowing reef building species to live and form new habitats for marine animals.

CTC has collaborated with local groups to implement coral rehabilitation projects in various sites in the Nusa Penida MPA in the last few years. It is hoped that with this new collaboration, the program will reach a wider range of audiences and facilitate learning amongst those engaged in coral restoration initiatives in the following years. 

“We hope that this new Coral Reef Restoration Demonstration will facilitate knowledge exchange between those involved in reef restoration efforts in Indonesia and beyond. Currently knowledge is limited so it is difficult to replicate successful methods or learn lessons from failed attempts,” said CTC Executive Director Rili Djohani. 

She also noted that restoration projects are carried out by a wide range of groups, using different methods, and set up in varying topographic locations. Thus, CTC hopes to contribute by building capacity and sharing lessons learned to ensure a higher success rate for coral restoration projects. 

In early 2021, Coral Triangle Center (CTC) joined forces with Mars, Inc. to establish the Coral Reef Restoration Task Force. Currently including representatives from CTC, Mars, Bali Blue Harmony and People and Nature Consulting International, the Task Force’s mission is to build capacity for reef restoration and resilience-based management in marine protected areas (MPAs) across Indonesia. In the future, representation is intended to expand to include other restoration practitioners as well as potential collaboration with governments, experts and other key stakeholders. The project is supported by Bloomberg Philanthropies’ Vibrant Oceans Initiative and Mission Blue.

In a continuing effort to enhance these endeavours, CTC is now working towards expanding its impact while collaborating with the Nusa Penida MPA management unit, local community groups and private sector. The Coral Restoration Demonstration Site is also part CTC’s support to the Nusa Penida MPA, home to some of the most diverse marine ecosystems in the world. The coral reefs in Nusa Penida MPA support 296 species of coral and 576 species of fish. It is an important habitat for marine megafauna, such as manta rays and bump-head sunfish. The MPA encompasses Nusa Penida, Nusa Lembongan, and Nusa Ceningan Islands, and aims to protect marine and coastal ecosystems, while safeguarding local livelihoods. CTC is working with the government and local community groups to help implement the Nusa Penida MPA zoning system, and manage the challenges the MPA faces, creating a sustainable model for marine and coastal conservation.

Writers: Marthen Welly, Eureka Amadea
Photos: Marthen Welly/CTC, Adam Putra/CTC

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