Reviving Pujada Bay – Corals meet Mangroves!

rrreefs, Team Malizia, Mama Earth Foundation, and Zurich Gruppe Deutschland are joining forces to regenerate degraded coral reefs and mangroves in Pujada Bay in the Philippines. 

As part of the Coral Triangle, the Philippines is part of the planet’s richest area of marine diversity. The country contains almost 10% of the world’s coral reefs.

Declared a marine protected area in 1994, Pujada Bay covers about 20,0887 hectares of protected landscapes and seascapes and is a convergence point of diverse marine ecosystems. 

To date, 98% of the reefs in the Philippines are classified as threatened, with 70% at high or very high risk. Unsustainable practices such as blast fishing are thought to be the largest contributors to reef degradation. In addition, climate change is increasing both the temperature and the acidity of the ocean. Rising temperatures increase the risk of coral bleaching.

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. In addition, 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.

As a first step, the project will focus on regenerating around 50 m2 of damaged coral reef and planting 6000 mangroves. 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? 

In addition to project’s environmental aspects, the creation of positive social impact plays an important role. 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.

The project is planned to be implemented in February 2024. Stay tuned for more updates!