Caribbean Coral Reef Restoration Workshop
Saba, Caribbean Netherlands –. Coral reef restoration methods are showing promising results in supporting regional efforts for restoring degraded coral reefs in the Dutch Caribbean. Therefore, the Dutch Caribbean Nature Alliance (DCNA) organizes a reef restoration workshop led by University of Applied Sciences Van Hall Larenstein (VHL) between April 5th and 6th on Saba. This workshop will involve coral reef biologists, coral restoration experts, and marine park managers from various Caribbean islands to focus for the first time on the restoration of one important key player on the reef – Diadema antillarum, – long spined sea urchin.
Sea Urchin Focus workshop
In the RAAK Pro Diadema project VHL works closely together with other research institutes and local partners to restore long spined sea urchin populations on the coral reefs around Saba and St. Eustatius. This project is showing promising results. The lead researchers Alwin Hylkema and Tom Wijers will share their impressive tools, techniques, and latest scientific findings to facilitate the restoration of Diadema in the Wider Caribbean region during the DCNA workshop.
The workshop will concentrate on the historical context and status of these reduced herbivores and introduce Diadema restoration techniques that have shown promising results. Also on the agenda are hands-on training sessions, to improve practical skills related to Diadema restoration. There will also be attention for the recent Diadema die-off events in the Caribbean and an update on the latest findings. Some sessions will be possible to follow live online for people working in this field who are unable to attend in person.
During the days, there will be intense dialogue between islands to exchange local knowledge, share expertise, stimulate cooperation where suitable and unveil the necessary tools to mitigate the loss of Diadema sea urchins.
Game Changer in Reef Restoration
Coral reef restoration in the Dutch Caribbean has focused heavily on corals. This workshop is built upon research and innovation that introduces the restoration of the important algae grazer Diadema.
By restoring reef grazers alongside corals, the corals will have a higher chance to survive. The long-spined sea urchins graze away the algae, which are important competitors of the corals. By creating bare substrate, the sea-urchins can also facilitate natural coral recruitment.
Safeguarding Coral Reefs with the Sea Urchin
DCNA strives to safeguard nature, including its extraordinary coral reefs in the Dutch Caribbean. Significant local threats that need to be tackled to safeguard the reefs include poorly regulated (coastal) development, wastewater, and waste management as well as overgrazing. Also, the lack of sustainable funding and policy support hamper conservation management.
On top of this, is coral reef restoration an important component. Both coral and Diadema sea-urchin restoration can assist in saving the important but fragile coral reefs and make them more resilient to the impacts of climate change.
This workshop is generously funded by the Ministry of Agriculture, Nature and Food Quality (LNV) as a support to the Nature and Environmental Policy Plan for the BES-islands, the Dutch Postcode Lottery and SIA, part of the Dutch Research Council (NWO).
Stay up to date
If you would like to learn more about the Diadema workshop and DCNA’s activities, follow DCNA through their free digital newsletter BioNews (https://dcnanature.org/news/), Facebook (Dutch Caribbean Nature Alliance) or Instagram (DCNAnature). For more information about the RAAK PRO Diadema project follow https://www.facebook.com/reefrestorationVHL/ or contact project leader email@example.com.
For more information on the Diadema workshop, please contact:
Tineke van Bussel, Research Communications Liason at firstname.lastname@example.org and
Dahlia Hassell – Knijff, Projects Officer at email@example.com