[Coral-List] reef restoration in Belize *warning long-ish email*

Lisa Carne lisasinbelize at gmail.com
Mon Sep 21 19:26:12 UTC 2020

Greetings from Belize on Belize’s Independence Day!

Have to pipe in on restoration threads: we have been at this since 2006, taking our time to satisfy ourselves with positive results scaling up once in 2009/2010 and again in 2014, 2015 and 2016.

At NO time have we ever said we can restore all reefs, and at no time have we ever downplayed or denied the primary issue of GhG emissions, or local impacts like water quality, over fishing, pollution, etc. 

But we do say it can work;  you need to 1) know your reefs-put that time in underwater!! 2) use stringent site selection criteria 3) include science & research, 4) do not outplant or add corals to nurseries during  hurricane/bleaching season (june-november in Caribbean)!

Restoration is like yoga now, (!) when I started it was not, but the same criticisms still hold, and the projects that fail, or do not report failures, frustrate me personally, as does this revived debate where many responders have lumped all projects and practitioners together.

While over 150K coral ‘fragments’ have been outplanted nationwide in multiple MPAs and control sites (outside of MPAs) in Belize with a focus on the 3 acropora taxa (we do have other spp included), readers know the nature of acroporids make long term growth rates & survivorship difficult to track:

We have been using diver based mosaics since 2014 and last year started with drones for larger shallow coral reef quantifications and note:  the costs of implementing these tools is far greater than the actual replenishment work itself.

We know we have >80% survival from the 1st elkhorn transplants almost 14 years, but that tells you nothing about how they have spread out; corals at our 1st site have survived 2 (indirect) Cat 1 hurricanes (Earl in 2016, Nana in 2020) and multiple bleaching events including 2019 & 2017, Belize’s most severe events yet.
over 20 diff A. palmata genets, > 10 A. cervicornis genets at Laughing Bird Caye National Park (1st & oldest site) alone
all three nursery-grown-outplanted acropora taxa spawned (Carne & Baums 2016)
we have increased coral cover from <6% to > 30 & 50% in certain sites (2010-2017/18): diver based mosaics
21% of shallow hectare reef is replenished acroporids (drone mosaics)

We do not have many publications, primarily because we are very small (outside of field work mostly me doing everything: accounting, admin & proposals in my home office ) which makes all these recent “literature reviews” disheartening on top of the decades-old same-old debates.

Our website, www.fragmentsofhope.org <http://www.fragmentsofhope.org/> has a “media center" tab with our few publications (remember the 2016 ICRS MS was invited & peer-reviewed), and more recently two funders have allowed our technical reports to go up, I direct you to a few at the end of this email.

COSTS are extremely small compared to what reefs are worth and what most PhD’s bring home as salary alone: our  averaged organization budget US$57.2K/year the last 7 years. This is inclusive of much more than active restoration: outreach materials, equipment, field trips/activities with schools AND paying for services outside of Belize: coral larvae spawn models (Dr. Claire Paris, U of Miami), genetics (Penn state), mosaics processing (U of Miami) and travel costs for many invited colleagues.

We have trained > 60 Belizeans and only use these people who are then paid a stipend (equivalent to dive master rates), included in above averaged budget.

Since my tag line “seeing is Belizing” is on COVID hold, you do not have to believe me when I say restoration can work-and Laughing Bird Caye National Park is the best example of this in the Caribbean, at least, even with ”just’ acroporids (we do have ARMS units in place for 3 years, as one tool to assess biodiversity, their retrieval in partnership with the Smithsonian also on hold, like so much..).

Check the following experts who have been here in person (if I forgot you and you have seen the results of our work in person please pipe in!):

David Vaughan
David Gulko
Brian Lapointe
Iliana Baums
Valerie Paul
Diego Lirman
Ania Banaszak
Arthur Gleason
Mark Butler
Steve Schill
Les Kaufman
Ken Nedimyer
Janie Wulff

I have not listed many of our collaborators and there is always room for more!
Find us on all social media (Facebook, Youtube, Titter, Instagram) for visuals, or contact me directly for any further info.

More corals=More fish(es),

Lisa Carne
Executive Director/Founder
Fragments of Hope
Placencia Village, Belize
fragmentsofhope.org <http://fragmentsofhope.org/>

Reports on website to check for data:

1) "Facilitating Coral Reef Resilience To Climate-driven Bleaching Incidence Through Bio-engineering As A Means of Lesson-learning: A Continuation. Dec 16, 2019-June 30, 2020"p. 18-19 are results of working with drones quantifying > 20% of a hectare of shallow reef is replenished acroporids: The left image shows the three acropora taxa color coded (orange =ACER 1938m2, red=APAL 250m2, yellow=APRO 52m2) versus the image on the right which combines all three acroporid taxa in one color, orange: Object-based classification of coral features based on an orthophoto mosaic (2cm RGB) acquired with a DJI Phantom 4 Pro flying at 300ft on July 31, 2019. The orange class represents all three replenished acroporid taxa (combined 2,190m2) and the red class represents star corals and dead coral structure, but not rubble (10,273 m2).

2) "Facilitating Coral Reef Resilience to Climate-Driven Bleaching Incidence Through Bioengineering as a Means of Lesson Learning: A Continuation January 23, 2019 –July 25, 2019” p. 6 reflects results of diver based mosaics: coral cover increases from baseline of ~ 6% (2010) to 30-50% (2017-2018)

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