21 Oct 2023
Coral reefs are the first ecosystem to be affected by global warming and climate change. The loss of their functionality directly impacts the malfunction of all marine ecosystems, leading to increased erosion and posing a threat to the livelihood of coastal communities.
Fish, molluscs, and marine organisms have adaptations in each interconnected ecosystem. If coral reefs are damaged, the fishing sector’s income will experience a drastic decline. Fish that lay eggs in mangrove areas will lose their food and shelter. Coral reef ecosystems take hundreds of years to recover. Therefore, the KEHATI foundation, in collaboration with CSR partners, strives to save the future of coastal communities through restoration and rehabilitation efforts. Unlike the coral breeding house method used in the initial restoration activities on Sangiang Island, the coral breeding in Makassar uses the Coral Tree Nursery (CTN) module. This module stands vertically and will eventually grow to resemble a tree.
Yayasan KEHATI, in collaboration with PT Kliring Penjaminan Efek Indonesia (KPEI), has contributed 10 CTN modules. The Makassar coral restoration project has also received financial support from KPEI, totaling almost 200 million Indonesian Rupiah. The goal of this restoration is initially focused on propagation, but if there are individuals or organizations willing to provide funding, it can be expanded to the transplantation stage. The support from KPEI is a one-time payment, and if they are still interested in supporting the propagation activities, renegotiations will be necessary.
The largest portion of the conservation efforts is allocated towards the maintenance expenses. Before the activities commence, a grand ceremony is held to advertise and attract public attention, as well as providing a research facility and tourist attraction opportunity,” says the Marine Program Manager of KEHATI Foundation.
The coral reef restoration sites in Makassar are Barrang Caddi and Barrang Lompo. Each of these sites has 10 modules, making a total of 30 modules available. Barrang Lompo has 20 modules, while Barrang Caddi has 10. The modules installed at Barrang Caddi are replicas of the ones at Barrang Lompo, which were relocated. To ensure a sustainable supply of coral seedlings for transplantation without extracting them from the natural environment, the breeding grounds are being expanded. In the future, a community of divers will be formed to take care of the planted coral reefs.
The diving community consists of young individuals from Barrang Caddi and Barrang Lompo, supported by the PINISI foundation as the grant recipient from the KEHATI foundation. Additionally, academics including professors, activists, and journalists will be involved to assist these youth groups in managing and administrating their projects. At least three people are required to take care of one CTN (Coral Transplantation Nursery). The corals grow quite rapidly, with a growth rate of one year. Thanks to the grant from the KEHATI foundation, the focus will be on transplanting corals to increase the diversity of coral species in Barrang Caddi and Barrang Lompo.
The cultivation of coral offspring is the initial step in the restoration process before transplantation. It is therefore crucial to select superior offspring that can yield high-quality results. Coral reefs in Indonesia are classified as poor, so if we were to take offspring from the wild for transplantation, the quality of the growing coral would diminish. Offspring from nature may not necessarily be good and require time to adapt. There are not many good corals that are suitable for cultivation and transplantation. The decline in the quality of offspring from nature is mainly due to the diminishing coverage caused by excessive harvesting and destruction. Activities such as bombing, tourism, and ships contribute to the breakage of coral reefs. We should refrain from excessively harvesting good offspring from nature to allow them to grow naturally.
Since this is Makassar’s first time engaging in coral reef conservation, they have chosen to utilize the CTN module propagation method with the expectation of maximizing the ecological benefits. The primary objective of this propagation is to ensure that anyone conducting transplantation does not disturb the original habitat. The vertical form of the CTN module is capable of producing a significantly larger quantity of coral reefs, which can also serve as a beautiful tourist attraction. For this coral reef conservation, a total of 10 seedlings from different species are being used. The Acropora seedling, in particular, is the easiest to grow, taking approximately 7 months to reach a maximum height of 5 cm in the first year. Therefore, coral reefs are highly susceptible to damage.
The CTN module has proven to bring positive impacts, one of which is the formation of an ecosystem that benefits the community economically. The fisheries sector has witnessed a revival, resulting in a daily catch of 8 kilograms of squid compared to the previous 1 kilogram. In response, the community took the initiative to establish an agreement that only certain fish species can be caught, while using tools like trawling nets is strictly prohibited. Swimming, snorkeling, and diving activities are now guided by the management team to ensure the preservation of the newly formed coral reef ecosystem.
There are still many areas in Indonesia that need coral reef conservation efforts, aside from the Spermonde Islands in Makassar. The islands of Nusa Tenggara Timur and Maluku are among them. The island of Java itself faces challenges due to its deteriorating ecosystem, while transplantation in the northern and southern coasts is quite risky. Coral reef conservation doesn’t attract much interest from CSR activities. They tend to allocate more funding for mangrove conservation projects. The ratio between the two is 10:2, mainly because many people are unaware of the benefits of preserving coral reefs, especially in preventing shoreline erosion. Additionally, each coastal ecosystem has its own unique function. If one of them is damaged, the others will also be threatened.
In the future, KEHATI Foundation will work together with the community in Barrang Lompo and Barrang Caddi to ensure that scientific progress is achieved. If any damaged coral reefs are found, immediate efforts will be made for diving and restoration. It is hoped that the management will continue to contribute to this conservation mission in order to promote an economically valuable ecosystem for the coastal communities. Sangiang Island and Makasar are two breakthrough regions for KEHATI as they are outside of Java Island. This regular program focuses more on activities that do not require substantial funding, so that local champions can also benefit from it.
LVListyo (Tim KEHATI)