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Tech4Nature: enabling tech-based coral restoration in Mauritius

Posted Thursday 02 December 2021
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Pointe-aux-Feuilles is located on the east coast of Mauritius, covering an area of 2,000 ha that is highly rich in biodiversity and frequently visited by tourist and locals. However, the site requires urgent attention in terms of its reef restoration due to the rising impacts from anthropogenic activities in its vicinity along with rising climate change effects.

Tech4Nature is a global partnership to scale up success in nature conservation through digital technology innovation. Created by IUCN and the Huawei TECH4ALL programme, Tech4Nature is designed as an open partnership to apply and promote digital solutions for fair and effective protected areas. This growing partnership will provide guidance on the appropriate use of technology in area-based conservation and directly involve the ICT industry sector in supporting nature conservation.

In Mauritius, the main goal of Tech4Nature is to demonstrate, through the appropriate use of technology and digital solutions, active restoration of coral reefs, prevention of conflicting situations with the locals through sensitization and a fully scientifically managed area, which will be measured by benchmarked performance against the IUCN Green List Standard for protected and conserved areas.
The project involves coral farming whereby nurseries structures are constructed in the form of table nurseries and spider frames and coral fragments are attached on it. Software is developed to monitor the growth rate of corals, giving the length, width and area for each fragment planted. Up to date, there has been 4,000 coral fragments that have been transplanted on site and the aim is to transplant 25,000 coral fragments by the end of the 3-year project.

Along with that, a technological application has been developed to view corals live through an underwater camera device and the platform is ready for deployment on site after the public launching of the project expected in early 2022.
Moreover, a weather station will be installed on the platform for use by the fishermen as well as for other research and scientific studies. The project also increases environmental stewardship and interests of other stakeholders such as the locals, fishing communities and students by educating them about the importance of reef restoration activities.

Surveys are conducted around Mauritius to grasp the level of awareness locals have about coral farming, reef restoration activities and activities that negatively impact coral reefs. More than 100 fishers have also been trained in coral farming activities and there is an active involvement of volunteers in the project.

This will put Mauritius as one of the first countries to develop and apply a technology-based reef restoration and monitoring system that will also apply the IUCN Green List standard as a locally managed marine area or conserved area in the near future.

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